SIMON Mignolet hopes Craig Gordon is the next of Sunderland’s long-term injury victims to return to the fold – even though the Scot will be vying to take his place.
The Black Cats have re-introduced David Meyler and Fraizer Campbell to first-team proceedings after the duo spent nine and 17 months respectively on the sidelines with knee injuries.
But Gordon is yet to feature for Sunderland this season, a year to the day since the 29-year-old’s last taste of competitive action.
The £9million stopper, in the final six months of his contract at the Stadium of Light, is edging closer to contention after featuring three times for the reserves and warming up with Mignolet and Keiren Westwood prior to home games.
Belgian international Mignolet insists he is glad to see Gordon approach full fitness, hailing the increased competition the former Hearts man will bring to proceedings.
Mignolet told the Echo: “Craig coming back is a good incentive for us to stay focused and keep the right attitude in training and the games.
“Competition can only be a good thing for everyone in the team.
“You don’t like to see anyone be injured and be out for a long time.
“It’s the most difficult period in your career when you’re injured.
“It’s nicer to train with three senior goalies to get yourself on your highest level than training on your own and having to keep yourself motivated.
“It’s definitely a good thing that he’s coming back and the more competition we have the better.”
Gordon couldn’t have a better role model than Campbell, with the striker scoring in each of his first two outings for the first-team since August, 2010.
It has been a torturous route back to first-team proceedings for Campbell after he was forced to undergo a second operation on knee ligament damage last April.
But the 24-year-old has delighted his team-mates by seeing his positive approach to rehabilitation pay off.
Mignolet, who spent two months on the sidelines himself this season with a broken nose and fractured eye socket, added: “Everybody has been happy with Fraizer after all the injuries he’s had.
“Scoring goals will lift his confidence and you can always use another striker.
“He’s a very positive character, always smiling around the place.
“But I know what it’s like to be injured – it’s not nice.
“Fraizer has stayed positive and he’s got the rewards.”