Sunderland’s Mignolet to start for Belgium against England

Simon Mignolet
Simon Mignolet
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SIMON Mignolet will start Belgium’s friendly with England next week, in a clear indication the Sunderland keeper is set to continue as number one for club and country.

New Belgium boss Marc Wilmots has a rich array of goalkeepers at his disposal with Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois, who has spent the season on-loan at Athletico Madrid, and Bologna stopper Jean-Francois Gillet vying with Mignolet for a starting spot.

Wilmots will use tomorrow’s friendly with Montenegro and next week’s visit to Wembley to decide who will be first-choice for Belgium’s World Cup qualifying campaign.

The 70-time capped former midfielder, has confirmed Courtois will start against Montenegro, while Black Cats stopper Mignolet will be handed the chance against England a week on Saturday.

Mignolet has been first-choice for his country since making his senior bow in March 2011 and by handing him the more prestigious of Belgium’s friendlies, Wilmots looks unlikely to change that policy – even if he insists he has an open mind on the selection dilemma.

Wilmots said: “I have three excellent goalkeepers. All three work hard and have had a fantastic season so far.

“We’ve got a luxury problem, with three goalkeepers, who have great respect for each other too.

“I have no hierarchy to the goalkeepers. After these two friendlies and the holidays we’ll see who will be number one.”

Belgium finished third in their Euro 2012 qualification group, but there is an impressive crop of players at Wilmots’ disposal and they will be confident of reaching the World Cup from a band of qualification contenders that also includes Wales and Scotland.

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen will not feature against Montenegro, although is expected to be fit for England’s final warm-up game before the Euros. Central defensive partner Vincent Kompany is another injury doubt, although the Manchester City skipper does have a chance of featuring in Brussels tomorrow night.