Lee Cattermole has been chatting about our trip to Wembley on Sunday. God I can’t wait…
What does this final mean for you?
“What we’re getting on Sunday is rewards for all the hard work throughout the season. Starting with the manager and new owner in pre-season, we’ve worked really hard since pre-season and this is reward for that. We’ve really respected the competition and had games against U23 teams, away trips to places like Morecambe and it’s been difficult. We’ve done our homework on every team, treated the competition like we have done any other game and we’ve used it to keep our momentum going. Hopefully we get our rewards on Sunday and we go and win the final”
Are the strong team selections justified now you're at Wembley?
“Yeah, for us as a club, and I’ve been here many years, it’s all about rebuilding that relationship with the fans. I think we’ve done that all season very well and we’ve done great stuff with fans all season at home games, we’ve had massive attendances and it’s had a real good feel about the place. Anything else we can do to keep adding to that and building on that is exactly what we’re after doing. We’ve worked hard as a club, as players, out in the community. We’ve done that more than ever this season. We’ve just been rebuilding that relationship. Hopefully Sunday we can do it for the supporters and for the whole football club. I’ve heard a lot of things about the Checkatrade Trophy, but whether it’s the FA Cup or the Checkatrade Trophy, it will be a big game on Sunday. It’s two big clubs, it will be tense, and it’s one we’re really looking forward to.”
With so many tickets sold, can you imagine what it will be like to win?
“Well it’s something we’re hoping to find out. Everyone says it’s a day out to enjoy, but I believe you only do that if you win the game. I’ve not really mentioned the 2014 final against Man City. It’s not one I really look back on fondly because we didn’t win the game. Hopefully we get a different outlook on this one in years to come and we can look back at some great memories. It’s two big football clubs and the atmosphere will be electric. Hopefully we come out as winners.”
Does this justify not leaving the club after relegations?
“Yeah I think for a player when things aren’t going well and what’s happened has been well-documented, with the documentaries and things. So it’s natural players who played in the Premier League will move on when the club drops to League One. At the time, I had conversations with the club and made it very clear how I felt, and they made it very clear how they felt. I was here to start the season and I don’t think you can question what I’ve done this season. I’ve been really committed. I’ve done everything I can to try and help the club and get to where we want to get to. We’re ten games away from having a really good season and hopefully we can go and finish it off. We’re making great strides, we just need to finish it off. We approach every game in the right manner and I think that starts with the manager and his staff. They’ve created a winning culture here and you’ve seen that in the Checkatrade Trophy. We always went out to win games to keep our momentum going. We’re quite fortunate we have a big squad for League One but you’ve got to manage that and the manager has dealt with that great.”
How will it be playing in front of 80,000?
“It’s definitely a unique feeling. I’ve played in a lot of derbies and they are the ones that get you the most. You walk out for those games and those ones just get you. I played in the 2014 final and you just feel heavy in the warm-up, quite leggy and drained, but once you get going it’s great. It’s just work mode and everything just feels like normal. Hopefully we can handle the occasion. We go there in good form, a good feeling all around the club and we’ll down as a city and enjoy the weekend.”
Can your experience help the younger lads?
“We’ll try and approach the game like any other. We’ve got a few lads in the dressing room with plenty of experience and quite a lot of us have played there (at Wembley), to be fair. But as a player you find your own way of dealing with it, and hopefully we deal with it right.”
This could also be a dress rehearsal for the play-off final?
“It could be, yeah. It’s going to be a very interesting end to the season. We’ve got ten cup finals to go before the end of the season and we won’t approach any game differently to that. If we can get through the game Sunday, it’s back to the league, nine cup finals to go and it’s all in our hands. We’re confident we can go and get promotion automatically but if we have to go through the play-offs then we’ll have to do it. Either way, we’re determined to go up.”
On games in hand in the league
“We’ve had it earlier in the season and it’s never nice dropping behind in games in the league. But it is what it is, we’ll have to catch them up and I think we’re strong enough as a squad to deal with it and go up.”
Can you enjoy such an experience?
“I think you can yeah. We’ve all enjoyed the week so far. We had a nice weekend off and some of the lads were rewarded with international call-ups. It’s all been based on the game this week and we’re enjoying it. After the game I hope we can enjoy a win. We’ll celebrate after in the dressing room, but then it will be an early night because we’ve got Accrington on Wednesday. We’ve just got to focus on one game at a time and I think we’ve done that well all season. We’re going to the final because we’ve approached every game in this competition exactly the same and I think that’s testament to the manager.”
Does the club feel like it's on the right path now?
“Definitely. In the summer there was a lot of changes and it wasn’t always easy. There was a lot of negative press surrounding the club and plenty of activity happening within the club. But we’ve dealt with it, recruited well and taken on the culture that the manager has brought in which is to win as many games as possible and we’ve reacted well to that and done well so far. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I think we’re in good shape, as a club, as a city, as a whole, I think everyone is confident in what we’ve done and we’re happy with what we’ve done.”
It looks like you've really enjoyed this season?
“I have. I’ve really enjoyed it, yeah. I feel like I’ve got a bit of a spark back. When you play professionally it usually means that you were very successful as a junior and won lots of trophies. But as a professional my career has largely been spent fighting for every win and fighting for our lives all the time. A lot of the time you don’t enjoy weekends because you haven’t won that many games because they’re hard to come by in the Premier League. This season I’ve really enjoyed just winning more games. We’ve had great determination and I’m just looking forward to the run in because it’s a very different challenge. I’ve played in many relegation battles but a promotion one is much more enjoyable. Everyone is buzzing, the training ground is buzzing and yeah, it’s a totally different position to be in, but one I’m really enjoying.”
It's great for the fans as well isn't it?
“Yeah, I'm delighted for them. Since I’ve been here they’ve been brilliant and always got behind the team. I don’t think you can really kid fans and that’s why they spot when something’s not right. But I think this season if for whatever reason we didn’t achieve our goals, that wouldn’t be through a lack of effort or commitment from the boys. Everyone’s been bang on it. As a whole, the club must be delighted. As a player, I know how I feel going home after games and the fans must feel the same. Hopefully we can give them something to be really proud of come the end of the season.”