Lee Cattermole’s Sunderland career looks to be at an end after Paolo Di Canio refused to confirm that the midfielder is part of his future plans
While Sunderland are currently out in Hong Kong competing in the Barclays Asia Trophy, Cattermole has remained on Wearside as he continues his recovery from the knee ligament operation he underwent in March.
Di Canio said: “He couldn’t come [to Hong Kong] because he was not fully fit, in the opinion of both myself and the fitness coach.
“He is training with the reserves and then when we get back to Sunderland, he will be ready.”
But even before Sunderland headed out to the Far East, stories had already begun to circulate that Cattermole had been told he could leave as part of Di Canio’s revamp of the squad he inherited from Martin O’Neill towards the end of last season. And when Di Canio was asked directly yesterday whether Cattermole had a future at the club, the Italian would only say: “We will see. It depends.”
Di Canio’s non-committal answer will be taken as a further sign that he is ready to sell the 25-year-old former Middlesbrough and Wigan man.
Cattermole joined Sunderland from the Latics for ï¿½6m in 2009, following in the footsteps of manager Steve Bruce, who also left the DW Stadium for Wearside that summer.
But a series of injuries and suspensions have restricted Cattermole to just 78 league appearances, meaning he has figured in less than half the games Sunderland have played in his four years at the club.
Sunderland are already expected to sell out-of-favour defender Phil Bardsley this summer, and now it appears Cattermole could also be heading for the exit.
Meanwhile, the Black Cats are due to face Manchester City in the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy at the Hong Kong Stadium this afternoon – if the game beats the weather.
Sunderland’s semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday was delayed for half an hour and reduced to a 40-minute-per-half affair after torrential rain left standing water on some parts of the pitch.
Significant rainfall over the last 48 hours has given the surface little chance to dry out, and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has said he will have no hesitation in calling off both the final and the third-place play-off game – which is also scheduled to take place today – if the conditions are unsafe.
But assuming the game does take place, Sunderland winger Adam Johnson is looking forward to facing his former employers.
“It’s always nice going back to your old teams and seeing familiar faces,” said Johnson, who scored the only goal in Sunderland’s victory over City at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day.
“We played them last season and did alright. This time around I still want to win.” Di Canio was pleased with Sunderland’s performance in the win over Spurs, but believes his side will continue to improve as his seven new signings settle in.
He said: “In the future we will be more sharp and strong. We have to keep going because we want to build a resistance and strength.
“I have found a group of intelligent players.
“They have started to understand how important it is for us all to live together so that once we go back to Sunderland they have put down the work to bridge the gap between the different mentalities, people who come from abroad.
“If you don’t understand the mentality of your team-mates straight away it’s difficult, so this is a great moment to build together and bond together.”