Sam chooses Lee’s grit over Jack’s technique

Sam Allardyce explained his recent preference of Lee Cattermole over Jack Rodwell, explaining that desire trumps ability in the relegation fight.

Sunderland find themselves in a familiar position as another season draws to a close. With four matches left, the club is involved in a three-way fight for Premier League survival, a predicament from which they managed to escape a mere two seasons ago.

Ahead of the Black Cats' match against 10th-placed Stoke City this weekend, manager Sam Allardyce outlined what he believes a team in this position needs, and identified the player that brings this quality to the club.

The Sunderland boss has recently been selecting club captain Lee Cattermole over England international Jack Rodwell, a preference that Allardyce feels is essential to his side avoiding relegation.

"Having that driving force in midfield is very important in the engine room," Allardyce told reporters. "Jack's technical ability in many ways is as good as anybody we've got. But Lee's grit, desire, drive and determination can lead the team and make them feel good.

"We can rely on him to break up the opposition's attacks, close their danger men down and use it well. Alongside [Jan] Kirchhoff, who intercepts more balls than anyone we've ever had, that's a key factor why defending has become a bit easier for us.

"You've got to have some quality to create and assist, but you've also got to have one that's resilient when not in possession to stop the opposition scoring.

"The fewer mistakes we can make now, the better chance we've got of winning. It will be the opposition capitalising on our mistakes, rather than them creating wonderful goals, which hurts us."