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Catts is ‘At It’ Again & Looking To QPR As Moyes Suffers More Palpitations

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In today's Roker Roundup: Lee Cattermole is back, and he's back to his annual September bombastic best, and we look forward to QPR tomorrow night as David Moyes continues his fire-fighting introduction to life at Sunderland.

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Catts is ‘At It’ In September Again

Lee Cattermole, fresh from a return to fitness has been talking to reporters. His availability is a massive plus-point for a team lacking leadership and without a win from their first five league games.

Discussing the stalling of last season’s final momentum, Cattermole described the change in personnel during the summer as one factor behind yet another slow start:

'It's very difficult because you look at every season, you make a number of changes, and you lose your team spirit to start with because there are a lot of new faces".

'There are people coming in and there's a lot to ask from the new players because they've come into a team where no-one knows each other".

Catts’ words on the new boys are timely as attention has swung straight on to them, particularly after last weeks’ two defeats in seven days. Papy Djilobodji, Adnan Januzaj and Jason Denayer have had a fair bit of criticism, some of it unfairly so.

In his now annual early-season rallying cry, Cattermole said:

"we just need to stay patient, keep believing what we are doing and showing the right attitude".

A master of engendering spirit, Catts reckons his team mates have displayed a reaction to the Everton game and are "at it" now.

Fans can be forgiven for the sense of déjà vu. Lee Cattermole usually issues some sort of call-to-arms at around this point every season.

It is a huge credit to him, that in four of the last six seasons, Catts has not featured in the first few games of the season - either through injury or falling out of favour with the incumbent manager, only to roar back into the side by mid-to-late September as soon as he is required; and as evidenced by scanning a few headlines of recent years:

Last September:

"Sunderland facing pivotal period to turn season around - Lee Cattermole."

Catts was cajoling the troops after a recall to Dick Advocaat’s win-less side having spent three games on the bench

September 2014:

"Lee Cattermole is Ready for a Starring Role At Sunderland."

Lee was looking forward to starring in a ‘big role’ for Gus Poyet as Sunderland were win-less in August and September

September 2013:

"Jordan Henderson backs former team-mate Cattermole to play 'big part' in Sunderland's season after Di Canio sacking."

Former team-mate, Jordan Henderson backed Catts to ‘play a big part’ as caretaker boss Kevin Ball recalled him to the first team. Paulo di Canio had dropped Cattermole as he oversaw a calamitous start to the season.

September 2012:

"O'Neill furious with captain Cattermole for red card in cup win."

Erm....Sunderland boss Martin O’Neil, win-less in the first four games of the season, was angry At Lee Cattermole’s Red Card at ….Okay, you get the picture in that one.

September 2011:

"Lee Cattermole will bounce back from being dropped insists Sunderland boss Steve Bruce."

Steve Bruce backed Cattermole to star in a return to the first team having been dropped, as Sunderland failed to register a victory in their first four games of the season.

Looking For A Boost At Loftus Road As More Players Drop

Probably the last thing David Moyes needs is a trek back down to London, but the Queens Park Rangers tie tomorrow night at least gives Sunderland a chance of a much needed boost.

Both sides are devoid of confidence after respective slow starts to the season. QPR sit sixteenth in the Championship having faced two of the league’s pace setters in the last week. They were thrashed by Newcastle seven days ago and lost at Huddersfield at the weekend.

Manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, has said he intends picking a strong eleven for the visit of Sunderland.

Under a little pressure, Hasselbaink has been defending his style of play against accusations his team has been set up too conservatively, and his QPR side host fifth placed Birmingham on Saturday.

The last time we travelled to Loftus Road, Gus Poyet oversaw a 1-0 defeat to a Charlie Austin goal and we haven’t won there for five years. Our last victory at the home of the hoops came in December 2011 from a late Wes Brown header; Martin O’Neil’s men rescued victory having previously thrown away a two-goal lead.

As for Sunderland, Moyes has been juggling more balls and extinguishing more fires today.

Sunderland’s boss confirmed that Jermain Defoe will not play against QPR, having picked up a knock on Sunday. Defoe only touched the ball fifteen times against Tottenham so he could be forgiven for pulling a cold, tight muscle as his outing was reduced to an occasional shadow chasing exercise.

Big big chance for Duncan Watmore then. His outings so far have been a little poor as he has struggled to make an impact from wide positions. Naturally a striker, a run out in his favoured position is a timely chance for Duncan to impress.

Adnan Januzaj is suspended, but the tie may afford an opportunity for new goalkeeper Mika to get a first nod between the sticks. Whabi Khazri is unavailable through illness. A sickness bug has him side-lined.

Patrick van Aanholt will travel but may not feature and will undergo further tests following his late withdrawal from the starting eleven at Tottenham due to an anomaly revealed in a routine cardiology scan.

Some colourful conspiracy theories emerged following Moyes’ reluctance to discuss the topic during the post-match aftermath on Sunday. Certainly the Sunderland manager was correct in not discussing a confidential medical matter regarding the player with an insistent Sky reporter.

However, the FA’s insistence that it was not them who directly ordered the test, nor the instruction to withdraw the player just before kick-off, has given those with a wont to conjure imaginary yarns, an excuse to perpetuate the belief in a concealed sub-plot.

However, the important passage of the statement from the Football Association is this one:

"on occasion, clubs may seek independent advice on a player’s cardiac health from an expert cardiologist who sits on the FA Consensus Panel. They are hugely respected and vastly experienced specialists who place the patient at the very centre of their care and their only concern will be in regard to the wellbeing of that individual".

So, a long winded way of saying the FA commission independent third party cardiologists, one of whom in this case alerted Sunderland to an issue with Patrick van Aanholt. Non-story surely. Nobody but nobody would take a chance against doctor's advice. It does feel a little like the FA have tried to absolve themselves of blame for the late withdrawal here.

A missed opportunity by the game's governing body to promote heart-health and their cardiac screening programme too surely.

Regardless, if he doesn’t play, the game may provide a big opportunity for 20-year old Tom Robson to stake a claim as regular first team understudy at left back.

Other players on the fringe of the first team will be hoping for a chance to impress too. Notably, Donald Love, Paddy McNair and Jack Rodwell. Papy Djilobodji would likely benefit from being thrown straight back in to erase the memory of his previous two error-strewn matches and re-build a bit of confidence.