Billy Jones says Lee Cattermole’s return is a ‘massive boost’ for Sunderland, but was left bemoaning the errors that have left his side adrift at the bottom of the Premier League.
The Black Cats have been left struggling to preserve their top tier status following the 2-0 defeat to Leicester City, Jones slipping in the build-up to the second goal.
Cattermole’s return was perhaps the only positive at the King Power Stadium, Jones underling his importance to the team.
He said: “I always think Catts gives us a lift. I felt that when we had Catts out of the team a few times last year and we always said he was a massive miss.
“He controls the other midfielders in there and the defence as well and that’s why he’s such an important player for us.
“I thought he did really, really well at Leicester considering he’s been out for so long.
“I’m sure the gaffer would have preferred him to have more training and maybe even a few Under-23 games before putting him in, but one things Catts has said is that since the operation he’s been feeling much better and he was confident he could go straight back in.
“He did really well and it will be a massive plus for the rest of the season.
“That’s why he’s such a good player [his leadership] and all the lads look up to him from that point of view.
“You know he’s been in this situation and he’ll give his all and if you match him you’ll get a good result.
“As an eleven he’s the benchmark for effort and commitment and we need to match that as a group. He’s a massive player for us and we’re grateful to have him back.”
Jones has been part of a defence that had been showing signs of improvement before Tuesday night’s disappointing second half showing.
Sunderland’s biggest problems have been at the other end of the pitch and Jones said that the clinical finishing from the Foxes showed the narrow margins in the Premier League.
He said: “We had plenty of set-plays, plenty of good opportunities in the final third and we were playing well as a team. It was maybe the best we’ve played for a while and we were feeling good.
“But we gave away some cheap goals and we were punished, and that’s what happens in this league.
“In the seasons where we’ve pulled off escapes before we’ve had that little bit of luck. On Tuesday there were some great balls put in by Seb and we tried to attack them well, we just weren’t getting onto it. Then you get punished in this league.
“For the first goal me and Catts went out there and thought we’d done enough but they put the cross in and got the header in. For the second goal it was a poor run from myself and a slip and they broke away and were so clinical. You get punished in this league sometimes even for half-mistakes. It’s a ruthless league.
“We’re disappointed with goals we’ve conceded but it might have been a different story if we’d had that little bit of luck on our side.
“I’ve always said about this league you sometimes get punished not even for clear-cut mistakes, your man beating you all ends up. Sometimes it’s as simple as a slight slip, they get away, the cross comes in and Vardy gets half a yard, takes a great touch and puts it in.
“You get punished in this league for those mistakes.”
The situation looks bleak for Sunderland and Jones admits performances have been disappointing this season.
He is looking to replicate the opening hour’s improvement against Manchester United on Sunday.
He said: “We’ve just got to try and keep the belief within the group that we can get the win, then go from there and go on a run. We’re disappointed with back-to-back defeats in two games you could highlight as ones we could have won but you’ve got to try and keep that confidence.
“There’s been some games this season where we’ve come off the pitch and we haven’t deserved anything because the performance hasn’t been good enough
“If we can recreate that level of performance [first hour against Leicester] maybe we can get some wins on the board and it sooner rather than later go on a good run, hopefully.”