LIAM BRIDCUTT and Lee Cattermole WILL have the opportunity to play alongside each other in Sunderland’s midfield, insists Gus Poyet.
The £2.5million capture of Bridcutt has given Poyet genuine competition in the defensive midfield slot, with the former Brighton man holding off the challenge of fit-again Cattermole for Saturday’s defeat to Hull City.
But Poyet says it will not necessarily be a case of one or the other in the holding role.
The head coach points to the successful use of Cattermole (right) and Ki Sung-Yueng in the same starting XI after there was fierce debate over whether they could be used together earlier in the season.
And Poyet says it is also important to have strength in depth, with Bridcutt cup-tied for next month’s Capital One Cup final against tomorrow’s Premier League opponents Manchester City.
“I know how important Lee is for us and how much he will share the role with Liam,” Poyet told the Echo.
“Or as we said at the beginning, can Lee and Ki play together?
“Well, can Liam and Lee play together? I’m sure there is going to be a game.
“But it’s perfect to have the two of them.
“You can’t imagine how much it changes your way of planning for games.
“For example, in the cup final, Liam is cup-tied. How simple it is to replace him.
“If Lee wasn’t here, you suddenly have to change the team. That’s a relief.”
Poyet’s belief that Cattermole will be a key figure for Sunderland in the relegation battle was emphasised when the Black Cats rejected a £5million deadline day bid from Stoke City for the 25-year-old.
Sunderland spent the final hours of the transfer window fretting over that tempting offer from the Potters, for a player who is one of the top earners at the Stadium of Light.
But Poyet says it was Sunderland owner Ellis Short, who ultimately pulled the plug on the deal.
“The chairman has been exceptional.” added Poyet. “It’s very easy for people to talk well about the chairman, but I’m just saying what is true.
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“I had a good chat before I started. I made things clear of what I wanted to do.
“He was happy with it and I said I needed to prove things before asking – as I did with the fans.
“It was a big decision with Lee and it was a credit to the chairman.
“The question was ‘do you need Lee Cattermole?’ I said yes I do. ‘Well he’s going nowhere,’ he said.
“That doesn’t happen a lot in football because it was not easy to turn down that offer.
“That’s when you need someone to ask you the right question at the right time.”