The arrival of Liam Bridcutt was supposed to be the death-knell for Lee Cattermole’s career, but the Scot believes the pair have shown they can play together.
Bridcutt appeared to have been signed to take Cattermole’s job as the deep-lying midfielder in Gustavo Poyet’s preferred 4-1-4-1 formation in January.
But now he hopes Cattermole’s performance alongside him in a 4-2-3-1 shape at Norwich City on Saturday might change attitudes and bring a different dimension to Sunderland’s game. Tonight’s Premier League game at Anfield could be an ideal opportunity to find out.
Cattermole’s introduction as a 40th-minute substitute came too late to rescue the Black Cats from a 2-0 defeat at the weekend but it did at least raise the team’s level from downright pathetic to average. Cattermole was comfortably the visitor’s least worst player on the day.
“Me and Lee play a similar sort of role in the team,” said former Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Bridcutt. “It’s a healthy competition between the two. We’re always willing to help each other out.
“You could see it on Saturday when we’ve played we linked up well.
“There’s a little thought for the manager to maybe play us together.”
Cattermole came close to joining Stoke City on deadline day, the day Bridcutt’s long-mooted move finally became reality.
But the collapse of that transfer, and the Teessider’s determined performances since, have raised an interesting dilemma for their Uruguayan coach.
Poyet has always maintained that he would consider playing the pair in tandem when the situation demanded, and opposition as strong as Liverpool might be as good a time as any to put that theory to the test.
Certainly the thought that the pair are not flexible enough to play together is insulting to two professional footballers.
Bridcutt certainly has no concerns on that score.
“Without a doubt,” was his answer when asked. “We’re footballers, we can adapt to things.” Strike up a successful partnership tonight, and it could literally change the shape of things to come for Sunderland.