Why Lee Cattermole Is Deserving of an England Call-Up

Lee Cattermole (Credit: vagueonthehow -- Flickr Creative Commons)
Lee Cattermole (Credit: vagueonthehow -- Flickr Creative Commons) /

The international retirements of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard opened up the doors for many of the Premier Leagues midfield talents. However, one Stockton born footballer is yet to be invited through this passage.

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Lee Cattermole, 27, has spent his entire career (thus far) in England’s top flight but has never been called up for national honours; despite making appearances for the English youth squad at every level from U16 to U21.

What, then, is a reason as to why Sunderland’s midfield general remains uncapped? Well, there appears to be several, and they range in varying degrees of righteousness.

The first and arguably most prominent issue with the reluctancy to call-up Cattermole could stem from his infamous reputation as a ‘dirty player’. It’s no secret that Lee has dug himself a hole, and subsequently filled it with bookings of both yellow and red cards.

As of the end of the 2014/15 season, Cattermole has received 92 yellow cards and 8 red cards over the entirety of his career hitherto. Three figures worth of cards!

However, the notion that Cattermole is simply just a ruthless leg-snapper is a myth that needs to be busted.

In the season just gone, Sunderland’s defensive performances were inconsistent to say the least, but when they were good – they were great. Lee Cattermole’s role as a defensive midfielder was instrumental to such performances, just take the 0-0 draw with Chelsea at the Stadium of Light; when Sunderland became the first team of that season to prevent Chelsea from scoring.

At this point in the season, Cattermole had made more recoveries (80), clearances (32) and blocks (5) than Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets , Bayern Munich’s Xabi Alonso and PSG’s Blaise Matudi.

Reputation may linger in the minds of footballing snobbery, but statistical fact speaks for itself.

As do awards, incidentally, as following this impressive home draw, Cattermole would go on to win the North East Writers Player of the Year award for 2014.

It would be absurd, however, to assume that Roy Hodgson would base his national teams selection on the ‘reputation’ of the EPL’s footballers; and instead it may simply be argued that such a defensively oriented footballer like Cattermole just doesn’t fit into Hodgson’s setup.

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Essentially, it must be taken into consideration that Cattermole’s midfield tenacity would stand out more for Sunderland than it would for the nationa team. The Black Cats found themselves under siege for large portions of the 2014/15 season in their relegation battle, and the determination to grind out results in order to survive was vital – such as the stalemates with Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Hodgson may prefer the Premier League’s playmakers whose style of play is generally more positive and not focused on having a men-behind-ball mentality. This would at least explain the recent inclusion of players such as Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph.

That being said, Cattermole himself can offer offensive contributions when such oppotunities present themselves. Many times throughout Sunderland’s 2014/15 campaign Cattermole has demonstrated the ability to launch passes from deep, as well as the occasional thunderbolt strikes from outside the box.

Such a direct playing style can turn defense into attack in an instant, meaning there is no reason to rule Cattermole out just because his contributions are often defensive, for the sake of keeping his side in the division.

Lee Cattermole still has a plentiful number of Premier League seasons within him, meaning there’s no cause for ruling him out of an England call-up just yet.

Surely Hodgson could just throw him out there against San Marino, right?

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