Cattermole has managed only 14 appearances to date this season and has had to sit back and watch helplessly as the Black Cats' winless run has extended to seven games, in the process plunging them into relegation trouble.
Martin O'Neill: "Lee has a few more days to go after having had the injection.
"The specialist told him not to do a great deal and while he is obviously working with the physiotherapist, he is not doing anything that will risk damaging his knee.
"We hope for the best but, to me, if he comes back this season, then that would be a bonus - and an unexpected bonus.
"We may have to cope without him - and even if he does successfully come back from the injury, he will still be nowhere near match fit."