Vito Mannone: Sunderland keeper competition to be expected

Vito Mannone
Mannone won Player of the Year at Sunderland in 2013-14 but now has competition from Pantilimon

Italian goalkeeper Vito Mannone has said he is used to the competition for places he faces at Sunderland following the arrival of Costel Pantilimon.

Pantilimon, 27, arrived at the Stadium of Light from Manchester City this summer and already said he is looking forward to battling with Mannone.

Ex-Arsenal keeper Mannone was the Black Cats' Player of the Year in 2013-14.

Costel Pantilimon
Pantilimon made 18 appearances for Manchester City last season, but just seven in the league

"I have learned in the past clubs always have two or three good keepers," the 26-year-old told BBC Newcastle.

"I've been at Arsenal, one of the biggest, and we had three class keepers and we pushed each other.

"Maybe it's not normal at Sunderland but for me it's OK, as long as I do my job and improve myself every day.

"I had a good season last year but that's not enough for me and I want to get better and help the team."

Mannone's opportunity arose last term when Keiren Westwood, installed as first-choice at the beginning of the campaign, was ruled out with a long-term injury.

He went onto make 29 Premier League appearances and helped the Black Cats to a League Cup final at Wembley, enough to trigger an automatic two-year deal this summer.

Keeper comparison
6ft 8inHeight6ft 2in
Romania (18 caps)International honoursItaly Under-21 (eight caps)
7Premier League appearances 2013-1429
3Premier League clean sheets 2013-1411
18Premier League saves 2013-14137

Pantilimon's switch to Wearside came after a season as understudy to Joe Hart at the Etihad, where he coincidentally picked up a winners' medal against Mannone's Sunderland in that League Cup final.

However, both players have been handed chances to impress this pre-season, with head coach Gus Poyet yet to settle on his number one.

"If I play badly I deserve to be on the bench, if I play well then I deserve to be on the pitch," added Mannone.

"The manager is straight on this, he knows what I've done last year and I want to prove I'm his number one."

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