Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has not punished Lee Cattermole for his disciplinary problems by stripping him of the captain's armband. The skipper will return for the Black Cats at Liverpool on Saturday after serving a two-match suspension imposed for his second red card in just four games this season.
"I made a decision at the start of the season - and a conscious one - that he is the captain, and I am going to stand by him. He is still my captain," said Bruce.
"I was convinced it was the right thing to do when I gave him it, and after what has happened to him, I am still convinced that in the long term, Sunderland will benefit from Lee Cattermole being the captain of the club.
"The other night (against West Ham), we missed Lee Cattermole. I genuinely think the team is better when he is in it."
But Bruce knows the hard-tackling midfielder will have to keep himself in check if he is to ward off a fast-emerging 'dirty' reputation.
"His mentality has to change," he added.
"Once you are tarnished like Vinnie Jones in my era, or Joey Barton, if you get tagged with it, it is very, very difficult to take it away.
"There is this reputation that he has, unfortunately, and he has got to rid himself of it.
"The only way he can do that is by playing games regularly, staying on the pitch, keeping his nose clean and getting on with the game, which is the most important thing."