The central midfielder picked up a back injury, which has ruled him out of starting in any of the Black Cats’ last four matches.
However, Cattermole is set to return to Sunderland’s starting line up against Liverpool tomorrow, and Allardyce believes his return will be vital.
"Cattermole brings us a bit of tenacity which we have been missing," the 61-year-old manager said. "We need someone to get in their faces, whereas we are standing off the opposition.
“We think we are closing them down, but we are not really. We are two or three yards away.
“If you let the opposition get their heads up, you are in trouble.”
Sunderland have lost all four of their matches without Cattermole, which has seen the side fall back into trouble.
The Black Cats are now seven points away from safety, and they are in dire need of victories.
Sunderland have made progress under Allardyce, but the flaws in their squad have been all too evident lately.
Cattermole’s return should offer more protection to their defence though, and that could be crucial - as they have been far too easy to score against in most their recent outings.