KADER Mangane is already eyeing the prospect of facing international team-mate Papiss Cisse in April’s Tyne-Wear derby.
On-loan centre-half Mangane has become the third Senegalese to arrive in the North East over the last 18 months, following Demba Ba and then Cisse’s moves to Newcastle United.
While Ba has now departed St James’s Park after joining Chelsea in a £7million deal, Cisse remains with the Magpies and faces the responsibility of grabbing the goals to save Alan Pardew’s men from the drop.
Mangane (pictured) is yet to make his Sunderland bow after arriving on loan until the end of the season from Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal.
But he admits the thought of containing Cisse in April’s clash on Tyneside is already one that he is looking forward to.
Mangane told the Echo: “I speak a lot with Demba. He’s obviously someone I know from being selected together for the national team.
“He’s gone now, but if I have the opportunity to play against Newcastle, then facing Cisse would be something I’d be eagerly anticipating.”
Stephane Sessegnon is another familiar face to Mangane after the duo faced each other regularly while playing in France.
The Sunderland forward, along with Black Cats stopper Simon Mignolet and new signing Alfred N’Diaye, are helping Mangane break down the language barrier, with the 29-year-old only boasting basic English.
“I know Sessegnon from playing against him in France and usually he did well against me!” said Mangane.
“Now we’re playing together which is much better.
“Everyone’s speaking to me in English and that needs to get better.
“But it’s important to come here and help me settle that there’s some players who can speak to me in French. Alfred, Sessegnon and the goalkeeper Simon as well.”
It is not just the language where Mangane needs to get up to speed.
The former Rennes defender endured a draining schedule at the Academy of Light last week as Sunderland look to boost his fitness levels, which took a hit during his six months in the Middle East.
Mangane believes he is nearing full fitness and hopes he is in contention for a place in the squad for tomorrow night’s Premier League visit of Swansea City.
“Listen, I’m training hard every day to be ready to play for the team,” he added.
“Hopefully I can get in the team as soon as possible.
“My fitness is OK, but it will get a lot better once I get used to the games here.
“When you’re playing at Rennes, you get used to playing against top players so I’m confident I can get up to speed again here.”