Sunderland’s Mannone warns of mental stress in fixture pile-up

Vito Mannone.
Vito Mannone.
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VITO MANNONE says Sunderland will face a psychological test in overcoming the fixture pile-up over the season’s home straight.

Sunderland’s clash at Manchester City fell victim to the weather last night after the North West was hit by a torrential storm which led police to postpone the encounter due to safety fears.

It leaves the Black Cats facing a backlog of fixtures over the final three months of the campaign.

The Stadium of Light encounter against fellow strugglers West Brom is yet to be rearranged after being called off due to Sunderland’s Capital One Cup final commitments, while the Black Cats will face more postponements if they progress in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Goalkeeper Mannone realises the challenge of playing three games in a week on a regular basis and says Sunderland will need to overcome that mental hurdle in the relegation battle.

“We were thinking we were going into March with a lot of fixtures to come,” said the former Arsenal keeper.

“Now we’ll have quite a few more fixtures than the other relegation contenders, which is going to be tough mentally.

“We’re down there in the bottom three and we haven’t played as many as the rest.

“It’s going to be difficult, we know that.

“But we need to stay positive and if we are playing every three days, we have to be on top of our game.

“In our position, we need to get as many points as possible.”

Mannone says Sunderland’s players were keen to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat to Hull City against a Manchester City side without Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho and Samir Nasri.

But the Italian stopper had no qualms with the decision to call the game off after several roads and motorways were either closed or brought to a standstill by the high winds.

Mannone added: “It’s disappointing for the team. We were ready to play the game.

“The pitch looked amazing, so it’s a shame really after we trained yesterday morning.

“Maybe it would have been a good time to play Man City ... who knows?

“It’s a shame for the fans because they travel so far to see us.

“But if the police decide it’s dangerous, then it’s best to stop the game and not put people in trouble.”