Belfast Telegraph

Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole gets benefit of the doubt from Martin O'Neill

Martin O'Neill, the Sunderland manager, has no immediate plans to relieve Lee Cattermole of the Sunderland captaincy in the wake of the midfielder's arrest on suspicion of causing

Cattermole and team-mate Nicklas Bendtner were bailed after being questioned by police just hours after O'Neill, a well-known disciplinarian, was unveiled as successor to Steve Bruce. The club was making no official comment last night, but is expected to conduct an internal inquiry into events which left three cars damaged in the China Town area of Newcastle city centre, just yards from St James' Park, home of the Wearsiders' bitter rivals. O'Neill will act on the findings.

It means that, at this stage, the two players are available for tomorrow's Premier League trip to Tottenham, in the case of Cattermole, after serving a one-match ban in the 2-1 victory over Blackburn for totting up five bookings, veteran defender John O'Shea standing in as skipper.

O'Neill has yet to decide whether to bring either player back - Bendtner, on a season's loan from Arsenal, missed the Blackburn game through injury but is expected to be available after coming through a behind closed doors match in mid-week.

Cattermole is expected to return in place of Jack Colback. If the former England Under-21 international starts, it will be as skipper. When asked about changing the captaincy, O'Neill said: "At this minute, I don't see any reason to change that.

"The team played well against Blackburn, but we might change things round, I don't know at the moment. If someone gets left out of the team after Sunday's performance, they should consider themselves unfortunate.

"If Lee plays in the team, he will be captain. I stress, at this minute, I don't see any reason to change it."

Of a player his predecessor Bruce had made the focal point of his side, with mixed results on the playing front, O'Neill added: "Lee is as wholehearted as they come. Even in the little training sessions that we've had, he's vociferous."

Ahead of the trip to the capital, O'Neill revealed his reservations over the use of Twitter by his players. The on-line social networking site has exploded in popularity in the 16 months he has been out of the game, with his new charges well represented among the Twitterati. Connor Wickham, Titus Bramble, Fraizer Campbell, David Meyler, Asamoah Gyan and Cattermole are all signed up.

"You can't prevent players having it as some sort of personal conversation or other, but I think to leak out footballing issues, that would be crossing the line. That's my view, but's something I'll look at with the players" added O'Neill.

A Sunderland spokesman said: "The players have social media guidelines which spell out what they shouldn't communicate in terms of injury news."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph