Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet: I can win the race to be Sunderland’s number one

Simon Mignolet.

Simon Mignolet.

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SIMON Mignolet believes finishing last season as Sunderland goalkeeper puts him in pole position for the scrap to be number one this time around.

Mignolet helped Sunderland to a 2-1 win at York City last night in their opening pre-season friendly before the Belgian keeper was replaced at the interval by Trevor Carson.

Northern Ireland stopper Carson is not likely to be Mignolet’s main rival this season though.

New signing Keiren Westwood, who missed last night’s encounter as he recovers from a shoulder injury, has eyes on a starting spot while £9million Craig Gordon is expected to return to training at the end of August after a knee injury.

But after helping Sunderland to eight clean sheets in his 22 Premier League outings last season, Mignolet insists he has already shown what he can do in the top flight.

Mignolet told the Echo: “I’ve proved already in the Premier League that I can play well.

“Obviously it’s up to me to perform in every single game I play now. But the competition is there to keep me sharp in every training session.

“It’s normal to have competition. If you look at all the transfers that have come in this summer, there’s going be competition throughout the team which is good for the club. Hopefully everyone will move forward from that.

“I don’t have any problems with that, it’ll only make me a better player. The only thing I can do is show what I can do during the games.

“I think everyone at the club knows what I bring and it’s up to the manager to eventually make a decision.”

Mignolet had a few moments of concern during the opening 45 minutes, with Jason Walker and Liam Henderson both hitting the woodwork for the Minstermen.

But first half goals from Phil Bardsley and Oumare Tounkara put Sunderland in control in a profitable first pre-season outing for Steve Bruce’s men.

Sunderland’s focus now turns to the Continent, with Bruce’s men heading to Germany for a week-long pre-season tour.

“The first game is always important to get your fitness back and get a feel of the ball,” said Mignolet.

“It’s not always easy when you’re playing against an opponent like York, who are always ready to compete. York had already played two games so they were more ready than we were.

“And it was a big game for them and their fans so we were happy with the run-out.”

The 22-year-old added: “It will be good to go to Germany now. Everybody will get to know each other better and know how they work on the pitch.

“After normal training, you go home and don’t speak much to the other players.

“But in Germany we’ll be together 24 hours and you get to know each other which is important for the team during the season.”