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With Lee Cattermole entering the final year of his contract, things have still been all far too quiet on whether the skipper will get a new deal at the club. Yesterday, Martin O'Neill gave the strongest indication yet that a new one is in the offing for the occasionally maligned captain of the club when he told The Guardian;
I would like that. I have never wavered from that, I would like him to stay. He is in his final year of his contract and is in a decent bargaining position. He did well in the games he played last season but he missed as many as he played through one reason or another, generally suspension.
A very honest assessment in the latter part of the interview, but also good to hear that he wants Cattermole on board for the foreseeable future. Cattemole has been brilliant thus far this season, and showed some great form when O'Neill initially came to the club. With more time together, Cattermole might go changing his ways permanently, although O'Neill might not quite agree with us as he went on;
Overall I am generally pleased with him but Cattermole will not have grown up when he is 40. Will he change a great deal? Unfortunately not. I have kept him as my skipper, I need my head examined, I don't know why. But I do like Cattermole, I like him.
Do you get the impression he likes him? It certainly seems that way. Unlike O'Neill though I do see Cattermole eventually changing. He's still a very young lad, and eventually he'll kerb his ways. Last season we could easily say that he did the 'right' thing about 75% of the time? Over time and as he grows up that will only increase. By the time he's at his peak in his late-twenties he'll be a superb player.
O'Neill ended things by revealing a little more about Cattermole's character;
The one thing about Lee, he wants to play everybody's shot for them. He wants to do everything. He wants to take the ball off the back four, join in everything. He needs to temper a few things and has done really well for me. Actually, deep down, he is a decent lad. Doesn't always show it but really is a decent lad.
This was clear to everyone. So often it was too his hindrance that when we'd be losing he'd want to do everything - you could see that from sat in the stands - but for the majority of he time Cattermole has been excellent, and with him seeming to take on board O'Neill's advice and simplifying his game, he's a crucial element and a worthy captain.
Here's hoping that new deal is signed sooner rather than later.