Arrested duo still in squad to face Spurs


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The Independent Football

Martin O’Neill, the Sunderland manager, has no immediate plans to relieve Lee Cattermole of the Sunderland captaincy after the midfielder’s arrest on suspicion of causing criminal damage in an alleged car wrecking incident close to Newcastle United’s ground. 

Cattermole and team-mate Nicklas Bendtner were bailed after being questioned by police hours after O'Neill was unveiled as successor to Steve Bruce. The club was making no official comment last night, but is expected to conduct an internal inquiry into events which left three cars damaged in the Chinatown area of Newcastle city centre, yards from St James' Park, home of the Wearsiders' bitter rivals. O'Neill will act on the findings.

Northumbria Police will examine further CCTV footage of the area where the cars were damaged. A spokesman confirmed: "On Thursday 15 December, two men aged 23 were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.

"It follows an investigation into damage caused to cars parked on Stowell Street in Newcastle city centre, which happened at about 10pm on Tuesday, 6 December. The two men have been bailed pending further inquiries."

Cattermole and Bendtner will be available for tomorrow's Premier League trip to Tottenham. Cattermole returns after serving a one-match ban in the 2-1 victory over Blackburn last Sunday, because he has collected five bookings this season.

O'Neill has yet to decide whether to bring either player back – Bendtner, on a season's loan from Arsenal, missed the Blackburn game through injury but is expected to be available after coming through a behind-closed-doors match in midweek.

Cattermole is expected to return in place of Jack Colback. If the former England Under-21 international starts, it will be as captain. When asked about changing the captaincy, O'Neill said: "At this minute, I don't see any reason to change that. The team played well against Blackburn, but we might change things round, I don't know at the moment.

"If someone gets left out of the team after Sunday's performance, they should consider themselves unfortunate. But I don't see any reason, as we speak, at this minute, to change it [the captaincy]. If Lee plays in the team, he will be captain. I stress, at this minute, I don't see any reason to change it."

Of a player his predecessor Bruce had made the focal point of his side, with mixed results, O'Neill added: "Lee is as wholehearted as they come. Even in the little training sessions that we've had, he's vociferous."

Ahead of the trip to Tottenham, O'Neill revealed his reservations over the use of Twitter by his players. The social networking site has boomed in popularity in the 16 months he has been out of the game. "I'd have reservations about it, real reservations," O'Neill said. "You can't prevent players having it as some sort of personal conversation or other, but I think to leak out footballing issues, that would be crossing the line. That's my view. I haven't spoken to them about it, but it's something I'll look at with the players."

A Sunderland spokesman said: "The players have social media guidelines which spell out what they shouldn't communicate in terms of injury news."