JACK Colback will welcome the return of skipper Lee Cattermole for Sunderland’s FA Cup quarter final replay – even if it costs him his place in the side.
Sunderland will have midfielder Cattermole and forward Stephane Sessegnon back from suspension for their second meeting with Everton on Tuesday week after both missed Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Toffees at Goodison Park.
Martin O’Neill’s men have coped admirably without their two banned pivotal figures, his side beating Liverpool to record a first Premier League win in four and ending a run of four successive defeats at Goodison to remain in the hat for the semi-finals.
Colback, pictured, has thrived after taking Cattermole’s spot in the middle of the park, but accepts the competition for places which has seen Sunderland’s central midfield options rotate throughout the campaign. The 22-year-old told the Gazette: “There’s no mixed feelings for me, it will be good to have those lads coming back. They’re two big players for us.
“For all the centre midfielders this season, it’s been a bit in and out at times because there’s a lot of competition for places.
“That’s only good for the club and it shows that when we do get a few injuries or suspensions, we’ve got players who can step in.
“We’ll take the draw back to the Stadium of Light and we know it’s going to be tough again. But hopefully we can get through.
“We’re just happy to still be in the cup. The tie is very much in the balance and still even.”
Phil Bardsley’s stunning first goal of the season provided reward for a rampant opening 20 minutes from the visitors before nemesis Tim Cahill’s eighth against the Black Cats brought Everton level in an end-to-end first half.
Sunderland found themselves far more on the back foot in a cagey second half, with O’Neill’s side indebted to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet’s double save to deny Nikica Jelavic and John Heitinga.
Colback added: “Simon’s done fantastic and kept us in the cup. We showed our resilience and that’s been part of our success this season. We’ve been hard to beat and hard to break down.
“I didn’t expect the first half to be so open. We’re two similar teams, you look at their record and they haven’t conceded many and vice-versa with us.
“It was good for the neutral that the first half was like that.
“We started the game really well, took it to them and got the goal.
“Maybe, we should have kicked on a bit more after that, but they’re a good side and they got the goal back and we had to re-focus.
“They were getting forward a lot in the second half and winning a lot of the loose balls. But that’s what you expect from Everton.
“We defended well and tried to hit them on the break, but couldn’t manage many chances in the second half.”