SIMON Mignolet is on standby to replace Craig Gordon at Everton tomorrow with Sunderland’s number one still troubled by the knee injury sustained on international duty.
Gordon was forced to pull out of Scotland’s clash with Northern Ireland two weeks ago after feeling a niggling pain during training with Craig Levein’s men.
The 28-year-old returned to the Academy of Light for treatment and was able to feature in Sunderland’s defeat to Tottenham Hotspur four days later.
But despite a week’s rest in the wake of Sunderland’s third successive defeat, Gordon has continued to feel pain in his knee this week and is a doubt for the trip to Goodison Park.
If Gordon fails to recover, Belgian stopper Mignolet will be given the nod to make his first appearance since January’s FA Cup third round defeat to Notts County.
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce told the Echo: “Craig’s got a sore knee which flared up after he came back from Scotland and it won’t go away so Simon has a chance tomorrow.”
Gordon has missed just one Premier League outing – December’s stalemate at Fulham – since regaining his starting spot from Mignolet in November.
But his absence would hardly be a fatal blow to Sunderland’s hopes of registering a first victory at Goodison Park since 1996.
Gordon has been shaky over Sunderland’s last three games – conceding a total of nine goals in defeats to Chelsea, Stoke and Spurs.
Mignolet has impressed Bruce in training this week after sensing he has a chance of ousting the Britain’s most expensive goalkeeper, regardless of Gordon’s injury.
The 22-year-old, signed from Belgian outfit St Truiden in the summer, has enjoyed a productive maiden season in English football – registering seven clean sheets in his 12 Premier League starts for Sunderland.
Bruce added: “We conceded three at Stoke and Craig knows he should have done better there. I think his confidence has taken a bit of a knock since then.
“When Craig is good, he’s very good, but he’s having a bit of a wobble at the moment.
“Simon sniffs a chance at the minute and the kid has been fantastic in training.
“He took one in the face from five yards the other day and got straight back up. He’s as brave as a lion.”