JOHN O’SHEA has welcomed the return of Lee Cattermole and insists Sunderland need all hands on deck in their increasingly perilous situation.
Cattermole, O’Shea’s predecessor as Sunderland captain, made his first appearance since February on Saturday after appearing as a second-half substitute in the Black Cats’ sorry 3-0 defeat at West Brom.
Sunderland’s squad has been flooded by overseas recruits this summer, but Cattermole is one player, who is no stranger to the demands of the Premier League.
The 25-year-old looked destined to leave the Stadium of Light during the transfer window, but former boss Paolo Di Canio had a change of heart over the midfielder in the last fortnight after being impressed by his attitude on the training ground.
And O’Shea hopes Cattermole can contribute to Sunderland’s basement scrap after defeat at The Hawthorns left the Black Cats cut adrift at the foot of the table.
“It is a boost,” said O’Shea.
“We know what Lee is capable of.
“But it’s not just Lee, we need everyone, particularly now with Fletch (Steven Fletcher) looking at a spell on the sidelines.
“Everyone has to stick together, so Lee coming back in is healthy.
“It’s important that he knows this league, but we have to make sure we work hard as a team and give something that the fans can be proud of as well.
“There’s lots of new faces and we’re trying to get to know each other as quickly as we can.
“But the Premier League is very unforgiving.
“We have to settle in very quickly and get our understandings very quickly because no matter what team you’re playing, they have individual qualities and strong personalities.”
O’Shea admits there is understandably concern in the Sunderland dressing room at the club’s winless start to the season after taking just one point from the opening five games.
But the centre-half stresses how early it is in the campaign and the time left to reverse the Black Cats’ fortunes.
“Obviously you’re worried because of the position you’re in,” he said.
“But, thankfully, we have the time to turn it around.
“That’s where we have to stick together and hope our work on the training pitch pays off eventually.
“Obviously team spirit is not too high, you can imagine.
“We’re bottom of the table. It’s something we have to improve and hopefully we can do that as soon as possible.”
O’Shea knows Sunderland must be more ruthless at both end of the pitch, though, if their form is to pick up.
Sunderland had controlled the first 20 minutes at The Hawthorns prior to former Black Cats frontman’s Stephane Sessegnon opener, and both Jozy Altidore and Steven Fletcher fluffed chances at the start of the second half.
But once Liam Ridgewell had doubled Albion’s advantage, Sunderland conceded three times for the third successive game.
“Teams are not really carving us open as such,” added the 32-year-old.
“Balls are dropping here, there and everywhere and, at the moment, they’re landing for their players.
“We felt we controlled the first 20 minutes, but, literally, with West Brom’s first attack, they’ve scored from it.
“But we can prevent those situations better by stopping the crosses or something. We need to take our chances as well in games, because we know how important that can be.
“It’s hugely frustrating. We have to turn that possession into more chances, more attacks and be more clinical.”