Sunderland keeper: One step at a time

Simon Mignolet celebrates the Boxing Day win with Craig Gardner and Fraizer Campbell
Simon Mignolet celebrates the Boxing Day win with Craig Gardner and Fraizer Campbell
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SIMON MIGNOLET insists it is still premature for Sunderland to forget about matters below them in the Premier League table.

A run of three wins from four games has left Sunderland seven points clear of the bottom three, with confidence running high after Boxing Day’s victory over reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.

The Black Cats are now closer to the top half than the relegation zone, with only three points separating them from 10th placed Liverpool - who host Martin O’Neill’s side next week.

But with Sunderland still facing an arduous challenge to get anything from their next two games against Spurs and the Merseysiders, goalkeeper Mignolet says the Black Cats cannot yet harbour too lofty ambitions.

Mignolet told the Echo: “It’s a bit early to be looking up the table. We have to take every game as it comes.

“We can beat anyone, but we can also be beaten by anyone.

“The next two are similar to Manchester City and you never know what might happen.

“I said to the guys after the game at Southampton on Saturday that if we get some points from the following three games, it’s a bonus and we’ve already got three.

“We can look forward to the next few games now.

“You never know, we’re 13th in the table after two wins and it just shows how quickly it can change.”

Mignolet continued his stunning individual form against City after making a string of impressive saves in the opening 25 minutes and then denying Sergio Aguero in the second half.

While the 24-year-old was understandably happy with his own performance, he was quick to praise the collective defensive contribution, as Sunderland registered a third clean sheet in four.

“You know you’re going to be tested in a game like that and you have to help the team out,” he said.

“Personally, I can’t be disappointed with my performance. Killa (Matt Kilgallon) came in because Sheasy (John O’Shea) was ill and you see his mentality.

“He’s always there in training with a smile on his face and I’m very pleased for him that he did well again.

“We were very solid. We defended as a unit, but it wasn’t just the back four, it was the whole team who were well organised.

“James (McClean) and Johnno (Adam Johnson) worked hard on the wings and Jack (Colback) ran miles. It was a good clean sheet for everyone.”

Sunderland will need to be equally solid at the back tomorrow, against a Spurs side who romped to a 4-0 victory at Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

And it provides Mignolet with another chance to test himself against his fellow countrymen, with Spurs boasting Belgian duo Moussa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen.

“Tottenham will be a similar game to Man City, with a very good squad and loads of ability,” added the former St Truiden man.

“But there’s a chance of winning and that’s what we have to focus on. What we can do, not them.

“There’s a couple of familiar faces again. But you get used to it. It’s nearly every week I see a fellow Belgian on the pitch now!”