Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole has opened up about the injury problems that have dogged him for the past three seasons – and how he has overcome them.
The 29-year-old missed six months last term with a serious hip injury as Sunderland dropped out of the Premier League but he is back to his best now after surgery to cure the problem.
And Cattermole, now pain-free, believes he is a better player now than he was five years ago having learned to understand his body and to ensure he is in peak condition for matchday.
“You have to understand your body, that’s the biggest thing for me,” revealed Cattermole.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries so you start to become aware of what you need to do to maintain or improve your fitness, or give yourself the best possible chance of performing.
“That comes with experience and maturity, I’m a much better player now than what I was five years ago.
“Some might say I had more energy in me and I’m still enjoying it, which is great.
“I’m enjoying it more in the last seven or eight weeks than in the last couple of years in terms of how I’ve felt being out on the training pitch like wanting to stay out there and work on my game to improve.
“That comes down to being in good shape. No one likes to miss games or training. I had a serious operation which is quite rare, really.
“For me to see the benefits from it – which I didn’t know would come – I haven’t had any pain or symptoms from the past, which is great.
“That’s where the buzz comes from. I’ve played for two or three years in the Premier League where I’ve been really struggling.
“I’m excited now to say, ‘let’s get five or 10 games in’ but I have to take it one game at a time and keep doing the stuff I did in the summer.”
Sunderland signed 10 new players with the skipper aiming to lead from the front with his performances on the pitch.
“First and foremost, you’ve got to perform, there’s no point encouraging boys off the pitch then having a nightmare yourself,” Cattermole added.
“That’s one thing I’m trying to do at the minute.”