LEE CATTERMOLE insists his decisive penalty miss in the Checkatrade Trophy final has not left a mark, but the Sunderland midfielder is determined to book a return trip to Wembley to enable him to banish the memory once and for all.

Cattermole was the only player to fail to convert a spot-kick as Sunderland suffered a 5-4 shoot-out defeat to Portsmouth last month, and with the two sides set to lock horns in the play-off semi-final, he finds himself with an early opportunity to make amends.

Portsmouth travel to the Stadium of Light on Saturday night, with the return fixture taking place at Fratton Park a week on Thursday, and with a place in the play-off final at Wembley awaiting the winners, Jack Ross’ side can still ensure a topsy-turvy season ends on a high.

Cattermole has a personal incentive to see off Pompey, and while he has not spent too long stewing on events at Wembley, he harbours an understandable desire to turn the tables on Sunderland’s semi-final opposition.

“I’ve moved on from what happened,” said Cattermole, who is set to return to the starting line-up on Saturday after sitting out last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Southend United. “I was gutted when I missed, but the main reason I was gutted was because I really enjoyed the game.

“It was a brilliant game, and I felt good stepping up. It never even entered my head that I might miss the penalty, I never thought I’d miss it. It was disappointing, but hopefully we’ll go back there and set up a different ending. That’s the aim.”

Cattermole will put himself forward for another spot-kick if Sunderland find themselves in another shoot-out situation this month, although he accepts the decision could be taken out of his hands.

He has no regrets about stepping up at Wembley last month, and rightly argues that his effort, which was saved by Portsmouth goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray, was not too bad a strike. However, with the benefit of hindsight, he admits he might have changed his actions in the minute or two before he struck his penalty.

“The only thing I was disappointed with is that I was getting cramp in my groins,” he said. “I’ve never felt my legs like that. When I was walking, I felt like I couldn’t stand up straight – my legs were going. It was so hot on the day as well.

“That was the only thing I was a little bit disappointed with – maybe I should have got my legs rubbed in that time (between the end of extra-time and penalties), or maybe I should have jogged up rather than walking up?

“I just thought at the time, ‘Was that a bit silly?’ We had lads who had come on and were a bit fresher, but it wasn’t the worst penalty you’ve ever seen. Ultimately, it was just one of those things.”

While losing the Checkatrade final was a disappointment, missing out on automatic promotion was a more significant blow.

Sunderland started the season as the favourites to claim the League One title, but finished the season in fifth position, nine points adrift of champions Luton Town.

Some supporters regard that as unacceptable, but Cattermole feels it would be unfair to make a definitive judgement at this stage. If, by the end of this month, Sunderland are still a League One club, the 31-year-old fully accepts the season will have been a failure. However, if the Black Cats make it to the Championship via the play-offs, no one will be worried about missing out on the top two.

“I think it would be harsh to say we’ve underachieved,” he said. “With the change in the club, from the end of last season to where we are now, I think we’ve come a long way.

“You can see the atmosphere, every game, every away ground we’ve been to, it’s been like a cup competition for us every game, but we’ve handled it. We’ve brought a lot of new players in, new staff, new ownership – almost everything you can change at a football club, we’ve done that this year.

“We’re now entering the final period of the season. It’s a new competition, so we need to freshen things up again and go again. We’ve got two games, and then hopefully another trip to Wembley. In two or three weeks’ time, we’ll find out whether it’s been a failure this season or not. If we don’t go up, I’ll be viewing it as a failure, but I still think we’ve got a strong chance of doing what we set out to do.”

Having lost their last two matches at Fleetwood and Southend, Sunderland are heading into the play-offs on their worst run of the season. They have won just one of their last seven games, but Cattermole feels there are mitigating factors that explain the dip in form.

Sunderland’s three previous games against Portsmouth this season have not yielded a victory, but there is still a high degree of confidence that the tables will be turned when it matters most.

“I think we’ve maybe gone a little bit soft in the last few weeks,” said Cattermole. “I think the equaliser at Peterborough really affected us. If we’d won that, I’d have really fancied us to go on and win the next couple as well.

“We’ve played okay in games, but the last couple of results against Fleetwood and Southend have been poor. That’s not acceptable. From where we’ve been this season, that’s a massive backward step.

“Let’s hope that was just people with half an eye on the play-offs. We’re in the play-offs now, and I believe we’re the team no one wants. Over two legs against Portsmouth, you’ve got to fancy us.”