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The former Aston Villa and Birmingham midfielder insists that he and his team-mates will support the skipper after he received his fifth red card at the Black Cats against MK Dons

Craig Gardner has urged Sunderland's squad to rally around Lee Cattermole after the captain was sent off in their League Cup meeting with MK Dons.

The red card is the fifth of Cattermole’s Sunderland career and will see him miss three crucial Premier League games against Wigan, Manchester City and Newcastle.

"I feel sorry for [Cattermole] because he's been brilliant all season," Gardner told The Sunderland Echo.

"His attitude in training and on the pitch is spot on. He's a true leader and I just feel sorry for him.

"He's the last person in the world who wants to get sent off. He was rock-bottom in the dressing room afterwards and everyone was trying to pick him up."

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After the game, Black Cats manager Martin O’Neill called Cattermole’s challenge on Adam Chicksen "senseless" and "reckless", but Gardner was more sympathetic.

"Hopefully we will get him back in the team," he continued. "From where I was standing at right-back, it didn't look too bad. But I could be wrong. He was the other side of the pitch.

"We have got to get behind him and lift him up."

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