Mignolet faces fight for Sunderland starting spot

Simon Mignolet
Simon Mignolet
Have your say

SIMON MIGNOLET is taking nothing for granted in the battle to be Sunderland’s number one.

Mignolet finished last season as Sunderland’s first-choice stopper after starting all but one of the final 26 games following his return from injury in New Year’s Day’s win over Manchester City.

But despite the summer departure of out-of-contract Craig Gordon, the Belgian expects a fierce fight with Republic of Ireland international Keiren Westwood for the spot between the posts.

And with academy products Ben Wilson and Jordan Pickford both featuring during Sunderland’s pre-season tour of South Korea, Mignolet knows the Black Cats’ goalkeeping ranks are strong.

Mignolet said: “The main aim for me right now is to build on what I achieved last time.

“I want to work really hard and have a good pre-season to make sure I stay fit, as I did last summer, so hopefully I can play as I did last season and even better if that is possible.

“I don’t like to say that I am the number one. I don’t like to speak in those terms.

“We have other goalkeepers in the squad and they work just as hard.

“Keiren is back now after being away at the Euros and there is not just him at the club. We have some really good young guys coming through so there’s plenty of competition which is good.

“The other players will come back so we will have a bigger squad to work with and start working on things in training ready for the new season.”

Mignolet missed Sunderland’s second outing in Korea’s Peace Cup with a groin strain.

But the 23-year-old returned to the fold in last Friday’s friendly defeat at Hartlepool United before being replaced at the interval by Westwood.

“It was more precautionary that I didn’t play the second game in Korea. I just need to rest it a little bit,” added Mignolet.

“I didn’t feel anything on Friday which was pleasing and that’s another 45 minutes under the belt in pre-season.

“So I’m feeling good and can’t wait for it to get started again.”