STEVE Bruce expects David Meyler to ensure the loss of Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole will not be felt too severely as he tipped the youngster to be a more than capable understudy.
Cattermole could be missing for more than a month with a back problem, but Bruce will not be delving into the transfer market to sign a replacement as he feels he already has one.
The Black Cats are unlikely to be very active this month as Bruce wants to keep his transfer budget intact until the summer, when he will look to land at least one high-profile signing.
Sunderland have been linked with Birmingham City midfielder Sebastien Larsson this week, although Bruce (pictured right) is thought to be waiting to make bids for Wigan’s Charles N’Zogbia or Aston Villa’s Stewart Downing.
But the form of Meyler means he is not worried about finding anyone to fill a central midfield role as he praised the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international’s progress following his recovery from a knee injury.
He said: “I am delighted for David Meyler. Jordan Henderson gets the headlines, but David has done everything to get back playing again. The two of them have a wonderful appetite.
“No one will work harder and be more committed than them two. Energy, honesty, endeavour. He does all the things a team needs.
“You have to win the ball back. We all like footballers, but he does the ugly side well and to play against him must be a nightmare. He is up and down the pitch. Look at Asamoah Gyan’s goal against Blackburn the other day, David was up there haring alongside him in the 92nd minute. It was his first 90 minutes in seven months, but he was still going strong at the end.”
Meyler’s encouraging return to the side after a long recovery from knee ligament damage has also impressed Henderson, who is happy to share the limelight with his team-mate.
He said: “It is quite easy to play alongside David, there is plenty of talking going on. I thought he was excellent against Blackburn – he kept the ball well and did the simple things.
“It was good to see him back to his best and hopefully he can carry that on. It was important for him to have 90 minutes as well for the first time since he came back, which I am sure will help his confidence.”
Sunderland’s England international was also pleased to see all three of the Black Cats’ forward line get their names on the scoresheet in the 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers on New Year’s Day.
He added: “It was great the three strikers all got on the scoresheet. There is no doubt with Benty he is going to score goals, so it was no surprise when he popped up with one.
“Overall I thought we played well and hopefully we can go to Villa and do well. Against Blackpool, we played well but did not get the rub of the green.
“Maybe we did not do as well as we did against Blackpool, but we took our chances and looked solid at the back.”