LEE Cattermole has vowed to make up for lost time at Sunderland as he believes he owes the Black Cats a good season after his first campaign was badly disrupted by injuries.
Cattermole made a blistering start on Wearside before a serious knee injury knocked him sideways, both physically and mentally, and he feels he still has much to prove.
The £6m signing from Wigan had never suffered a serious injury in his career and found it difficult to cope with the frustration on the sidelines and the doubts it put in his own mind about his fitness.
But, having re-assessed his lifestyle as a result of his injury scare, Cattermole is set to launch himself into the new season with all guns blazing as he prepares to start tonight’s friendly against Benfica in Albufeira. “It started so well but then came the frustration with the injuries,” he said.
“I had a really good summer with the Under-21s and I was looking forward to a new club and a new challenge. I started well in the first 10 or 12 games, but I picked up a naughty knee injury and picked up a lot of
niggles after that. I found it hard and really frustrating. Hopefully that is behind me now.
“It was the first serious injury of my career. Perhaps it was a little bit in my mind, but it was the first time I missed a lot of football. I found it really hard to cope with not training and playing.”
Cattermole has already missed two of Sunderland’s pre-season games with a groin problem, but he has trained with the squad for the last couple of days.
Steve Bruce is keen to see his dynamic presence in the centre of midfield and his physical problems are a big concern for the Black Cats boss, as he sees him as such an important part of this plans.
Cattermole had a reputation for being a bit of a wild child, but the 22-year-old is showing maturity and is one of the potential candidates to succeed Lorik Cana as captain after the Albanian’s shock departure to Galatasaray.
Cattermole (pictured right) said: “I’ve been away this summer and had a good think about things. Maybe I’m looking at things in a different way.
“I’m looking after myself more, how I prepare for games. I’m maybe growing up a little bit.
“I’m thinking about my body a bit more because I had a scare last season missing so many games and I don’t want that to happen again. I’ll be all right. I’m not injury prone, but it was the first time I’d experienced it.
“I might have another two or three seasons like that in my career, but I think the first is always the hardest. I hope I can play most of the season and do well.”
As a key member of the England Under-21 side which reached the final of the European Championships last year, a successful season with Sunderland may even push Cattermole into Fabio Capello’s senior squad.
It is an ambition the former Middlesbrough star relishes, but he is wary of talking about international football when he feels he has so much to do on Wearside.
He said: “I do think about playing for England, of course I do, but I’ve just got to do the business for Sunderland. They have paid a lot of money for me and I feel I owe the club a big season.
“I was disappointed I missed so many games last season and I feel I’ve still got to show the club and fans what I’m all about, to show the club what a good player I am.
“If an England call comes it comes but it will only come if I get myself right at Sunderland.”