LEE CATTERMOLE may only be three matches into his Sunderland career, but the whole-hearted midfielder hopes he has already proved there is more to his game than tough tackling.
On more than one occasion during Saturdays defeat of Blackburn, Cattermole rattled the opposition with the type of challenge he has become renowned for since making his debut as a teenager with Middlesbrough.
Each time he did, with a tendency to come away with the ball, the roar from the Stadium of Light crowd highlighted how quickly he has earned the respect of the supporters on Wearside following his £6m move.
Cattermole, however, does not want to be regarded as a player who only has a tough challenge in his armoury, and the delightful left-footed centre he made for Kenwyne Jones 54th minute winner highlighted his point.
The 21-year-old, who received ten yellow cards and two reds during his one season at Wigan, does not make any secret of his desire in the tackle, but he insists that there should be more players in the game today like him.
Thats my job. It annoys me how much people make of my tackling. I believe every midfielder should be able to tackle. Its part of the role, said Cattermole, who was wrongly booked by referee Alan Wiley when he attempted to block Lars Jacobsens pass down the line in the first half.
People talk about tough tackling, but Im doing what, ten years ago, every midfielder did. I dont know whether it was the English way or what, but I have done it since I was a kid. Any man stepping on to the pitch has to compete and I dont really know why I get singled out more than other people.
People dont talk about how I can pass the ball as well. People want to make more of a meal out of it than they probably should.
Im not saying Im the ultimate midfield player.
Tackling is not as big a part of my game as it is made out to be. Blackburns lad, Keith Andrews, made tackles, did everything I did. Lorik Cana loves the tackle more than me.
Cattermole had a modest smile when he talked about wanting to become the complete midfield player, but there is a look of a Roy Keane or Steven Gerrard in their younger days in the way he plays.
Bruce has already made comparisons to Keane and Cattermole admits he needs to push forward more if he is going to fulfil his undoubted potential.
When I was playing for the England Under-21s in the summer I was playing slightly further up the pitch and making those runs into the channels, where there is a lot of space, said Cattermole.
I would like to add that creativity more to my game.
But here at Sunderland Im perfectly placed to do that. As a midfielder its a dream to play with this front two.
Kenwyne Jones is big, strong and quick, while Darren Bent has ridiculous pace. Its unbelievable.
It may be too early to predict that Sunderland will finish in the top ten this season, and on the evidence of Saturdays display there is still plenty more work to be done.
But having successfully emerged with narrow wins in two of their opening three matches of the season, Cattermole feels a high finish is certainly something Sunderland should be looking at.
We have to keep our feet on the ground, he said.
These are the games you have to win.
We have beaten Bolton, Blackburn and we have to beat the teams in that sort of area. If we do that we will end up, up there.
We knew it was going to be a tough game, similar to Bolton. We didnt play as well as we did in that game. It was hard, the way Blackburn set up with a lot of strong lads, but we have to be able to compete and we showed we can do that again.
Having had doubts surrounding his fitness prior to his appearance against Blackburn, Cattermole could be rested for the trip to Norwich this evening in the Carling Cup.
Either way he has not made a bad start to life on Wearside, even if it is for a club he regarded as local rivals during his schoolboy days as a Middlesbrough supporter.
I grew up as a Boro fan. I am now a footballer, whoever I play for I will do it to the best of my ability, said Cattermole, who had been suffering from a back problem.
When Steve Bruce came here I couldnt take the risk and not come up by staying at Wigan.
I would have been thinking should I have gone with him. It was straight forward and I always wanted to come to Sunderland.