LEE Cattermole has come in from the cold and will be included in the Sunderland squad travelling to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Paolo Di Canio told the Echo he plans to include the former skipper in the squad travelling to The Hawthorns and that means Cattermole could be be involved in first-team action for Sunderland for the first time since February.
The Teessider’s days on Wearside were believed to be numbered when it was made clear that he would be allowed to leave over the summer.
But the 25-year-old did not move on and, after recovering from an ankle injury sustained at the start of the season, he has been allowed to return to the fold by Di Canio.
Sunderland’s head coach told the Echo last week that the door was open to the ex-captain providing he accepted the Italian’s regime wholeheartedly.
And after another week of progress on the training pitch, Cattermole is set for inclusion in a Sunderland squad for only the third time this year.
Di Canio said: “We all know what might have happened with Lee during the transfer window and that’s why he wasn’t really included in our plans.
“But, at the end of the day, when he doesn’t move, you don’t just stick him in a corner and say he’s not our player.
“It’s important you use the squad available to you if you can and to be fair to him, he has shown character.
“I am not prejudiced in this respect.
“It was the same with Wes Brown – he’s a fine centre-half who I wanted to move on from, but he was absolutely determined to prove me wrong and he came back in pre-season to really impress me and was on the bench last week.
“Lee has shown real desire too.
“He hasn’t just come back in to suffer, he has embraced it enthusiastically and that is important.
“If you are intelligent and you buy into it, you have a chance and now Lee has a chance.”
Cattermole’s recent career at Sunderland has been blighted by a knee injury.which ruled him out from last November onwards – letting him down in comeback games against Bolton in January and Arsenal in February.
He strained a knee in Sunderland Under-21s’ first game of the new season against Bolton.
But he has looked good on the training pitch in the last few weeks and Di Canio said: “Is it too soon to travel with the squad to West Brom? No.
“He will come with us and when I take the players with me to travel to the game, they go under the assumption that any one of them can play straight away.
“They might play from the start, or they might come on as a substitute, but if you travel you have a chance of playing, and he will be in the squad.
“I will make a final decision on the first team on Friday.”