LEE CATTERMOLE expects to be still a Sunderland player when Stoke City, the Premier League club interested in paying £5m for him this week, travel to Wearside on Wednesday.
But the combative midfielder, enjoying his rejuvenation under Gus Poyet, admits it will not be down to him if a decision is taken to cash in before the transfer window closes on Friday night.
Sunderland boss Poyet revealed after Saturday's 1-0 FA Cup fourth round win over Kidderminster his hopes for being “very busy” on the transfer front over the next five days.
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As well as maintaining an interest in Brighton's Liam Bridcutt – who was omitted from his team's FA Cup tie with Port Vale – there is also interest in Valencia's Argentine midfielder Ever Banega.
He also continues to look at attacking options and Internacional striker Ignacio Scocco, 28, is edging closer to a move to Wearside after suggesting he prefers Sunderland over a switch to Cardiff City.
There is also likely to be players on the move in the other direction, with Valentin Roberge and Modibo Diakite two of the likeliest to depart.
But it is the prospect of Cattermole leaving which would leave the greatest hole in the team. He has become a key part of the Sunderland revival in recent months but Stoke's willingness to pay around £5m could boost the chances of landing Bridcutt.
Cattermole said: “I will definitely be a Sunderland player on Wednesday. I've heard no different and the manager has come out and said he has heard no different. I will be back in training on Monday.
“I am contracted to Sunderland. They make the decisions not me. It's out of my hands. I'm contracted here for the rest of the season and another two years.
“It's out of my hands. Until I know any different, I will keep working. I have got a cup final to play in – if I'm here – and that would be brilliant.”
Poyet admitted on Friday that Cattermole had impressed more than he expected since taking over by adapting to the demands placed on him in a different system.
“The manager has been absolutely brilliant,” said Cattermole. “It was quite hard at first to change my game when we were struggling. I was getting frustrated and I got sent off at Hull.
“I think a lot of that was down to the change in the way we were playing. I have stuck with it, kept going and gradually improved. The performance of the whole team has improved. We are not conceding as many goals.
“One of the big improvements has been our defending. We were leaking a lot of goals from set pieces and corners. We talked about that at the time. Now nobody talks about that because we are not doing it.
“The manager has been absolutely brilliant, going back to the time I got sent off. I still enjoyed going in to work because training was good.”
Against Kidderminster, Poyet made ten changes to the side which started the Capital One Cup semi-final victory over Manchester United. Yet Cattermole was the only player to stay in the team and that surprised him.
The former Wigan and Middlesbrough man said: “He made it clear to everyone after Wednesday he would make changes, he sent me a bit of a curve ball really. You have got to do it. You have got to get through these rounds and do it right.
“He put the team up in training. I didn't see it coming. I enjoyed it again. Don't get me wrong I was tired. He wanted me to play so it is my job to do it. I will do it. It's about getting through to the next round.”
After Greek Charis Mavrias had put Sunderland ahead in the fifth minute, it looked at that stage like the North-East club would make light work of non-league opposition.
However, despite having more efforts on goal, Sunderland could easily have ended up with a replay when Harriers pushed on in the closing stages and had a couple of decent chances to level.
It was not the most convincing of afternoons from the Black Cats. Cattermole said: “It was difficult for the lads who came in. The fans will have their opinion but it was very hard.
“You are talking about lads who have not played for four or five months. I know what it is like to do that. It is so difficult when you are playing with lads who don't know each other's games. If you look at our good results of late, a lot of that is down to having a stable team.”
With a place in the fifth round of the FA cup achieved just days after sealing a Wembley appearance, the focus returns to the Premier League this week.
Sunderland know cup progress will be spoiled if they fail to climb out of the relegation zone come May. At least one victory over Stoke or Newcastle this week could see them rise above the bottom three.
Cattermole said: “We have a couple of lads in Craig Gardner and Seb Larsson who were with Birmingham when they won the League Cup. I think they went down that year with 37 points.
“They went down because they didn't win a game in the last eight. They probably saw how cup finals can affect you in a different way. It's up to us to keep our focus and keep going. We have got to keep demanding from each other. We have got ourselves so close to getting out of it now, we can't let it slip.”