LEE CATTERMOLE'S deadline day move to Stoke City was called off last night when Sunderland boss Gus Poyet won his fight to keep him on
Poyet had feared losing the whole-hearted midfielder in a £5m switch in the hours building up to the transfer window closing at 11pm.
But Poyet, who had revealed earlier in the day that he would lose the player with a heavy heart if he did leave, dug his heels in and stressed to the boardroom and to the player how much he wanted him to stay.
A calf tear will keep Cattermole out of this lunch-time's Tyne-Wear derby at Newcastle United, with new £3.5m recruit Liam Bridcutt in the frame to start in the holding role at St James' Park.
Despite Bridcutt's arrival from Brighton, though, Poyet was still determined to retain the services of Cattermole – and put the blocks on a move to the Britannia Stadium.
After a morning of top level discussions between Sunderland and Stoke, it is understood a fee was agreed and the Stockton-born player was on his way to Staffordshire for talks.
In separate discussions, which could have played a part, Sunderland were accused of making a cheeky offer for the Potters' full-back Geoff Cameron.
Stoke chairman Peter Coates said: “We thought that (Cattermole) was going to happen. It hasn't happened and we are not quite sure why.
“We don't know why it hasn't gone ahead. I am not quite sure why there has been a change. We thought there was a deal on but now there isn't. I can only assume it came from Sunderland rather than the player.”
Even when news leaked of Stoke's advanced talks with Sunderland, Poyet appeared reluctant to let Cattermole leave when he talked about the situation in his pre-match press conference yesterday afternoon.
The Sunderland boss said: “From the beginning of the morning, we started to deal with the Lee Cattermole situation. I am late because in the last few hours we have got to a really impressive point.
“It is a difficult situation for me as a manager. In my mind I had a team, a squad, but at no time did I think I would be talking about Lee Cattermole today. It is simple. I would like to keep the group of people I have here.”
Stoke stepped up their pursuit of Cattermole after learning Bridcutt had completed his move to Sunderland. Both players have the same preferred position.
The 24-year-old Scotland international has not played in the top-flight but Poyet thinks the player he had under his wing at Brighton presents a real “bargain”.
Poyet said: “Bridcutt is very special. We play a very specific type of football, with roles in the team and they need to have specific skills and Liam fills the role in the middle of the park perfectly.
“He grew up with me in Brighton. He understands the way we play and the role he has. He is British and young and he is was a very good price. He was a good bargain and we are delighted because I can really trust him.”
Bridcutt's arrival had looked like sparking a number of deals on deadline day for Sunderland but in the end there was no late drama, with the exception of Danny Graham's expected loan move to Middlesbrough.
Earlier yesterday it was confirmed Modibo Diakite had joined Fiorentina, David Moberg Karlsson had gone to Kilmarnock and Duncan Watmore went to Hibernian. All of those are loan deals until the end of the season, while David Vaughan extended his loan at Nottingham Forest until then too.
Poyet, who was was awaiting international clearance last night for striker Ignacio Scocco in the hope he can face Newcastle today, also had no interest in selling Phil Bardsley to interested clubs, including Fulham.
When it became clear nothing was going to happen late last night, the Sunderland manager turned his attention purely on today's meeting with Newcastle.
Poyet said: “My relationship with Newcastle was love and hate. People hated me a little bit because I always scored against them but in the back of their minds they always thought it would be nice to have him with us and not against us.
“Now, since I came to Sunderland, it is hate and hate relationship. The love is gone. I understand that. I am just doing my job the best I can and be professional.
“Somehow I always got the chance to score against Newcastle. There is no explanation for it. Bobby Robson once said I want to 'kill that Poyet'. I have got the paper cutting at home. It was so nice that he said it that way.
“The headline title was I want to kill and I kept it. It is in my house. It was special because it was him. I have a special photo of him and me and I keep it in my house in the trophy cabinet.”