Sunderland stopper Mignolet still unsure of Liverpool start

Simon Mignolet.
Simon Mignolet.
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SIMON Mignolet will not read anything into Steve Bruce’s selection from Sunderland’s Premier League dress rehearsal.

Belgian keeper Mignolet played the full 90 minutes in Saturday’s stalemate with Hibernian as Black Cats boss Bruce named what appeared to be the bulk of a first-choice starting XI for the final pre-season friendly.

The side at Easter Road strongly suggested Mignolet will get the nod over Keiren Westwood for Saturday’s curtain-raiser at Liverpool, with a shoulder injury restricting the latter to just three pre-season outings.

But Mignolet, who has now linked up with the Belgium squad ahead of Wednesday’s friendly in Germany, realises Westwood is still firmly in the race to start between the sticks at Anfield.

Mignolet told the Echo: “I don’t take any hints from starting on Saturday. The only thing I can do is keep working hard.

“Keiren obviously is a good goalie and he’s an international too. But it’s a good thing if there’s competition in the team.

“It’s not just for goalkeepers, I think all the lads are happier if they’ve got another guy to compete with because it means they’ll only get better

“I’ve got a friendly with Belgium on Wednesday so I’m away until Thursday. Then it’s up to the gaffer to choose. He’s the only one who can make the right decision.

“It’s not perfect going away on international duty three days before the season starts. On the other hand, it’s always nice to play for your country.

“Touch wood, I don’t get injured and hopefully I’ll come back without any niggles.”

Mignolet was a virtual spectator for much of Saturday’s mundane encounter, with Sunderland barely threatened by the SPL side, even if they lacked precision themselves at the other end.

The 22-year-old believes Sunderland inevitably had half an eye on Liverpool as the pre-season campaign reached a welcome conclusion.

“I think everybody knows how important pre-season is to get yourself fit for the start of the season,” added Mignolet. “But obviously as soon as you have your first training session in July, you look forward to the first game of the season.

“Now it’s less than a week away and everyone is looking forward to the game. Hopefully we can get some points out of it.

“On Saturday, everybody knew at the back of their minds that the first Premier League game was just around the corner.

“It wasn’t an easy game, but we didn’t concede which is an important thing if we can take that into the Liverpool game.

“I don’t think Hibs were dangerous in anyway, we just had a problem with the last pass or getting onto the crosses into the box. But I don’t think anyone is going to worry that we didn’t score.”