Vito Mannone will remain Sunderland’s FA Cup keeper

Vito Mannone
Vito Mannone
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VITO MANNONE will be given another chance at Bradford City tomorrow after Gus Poyet confirmed the Italian will stay in goal throughout Sunderland’s FA Cup run.

Last year’s Player of the Season Mannone has found himself forced to play second fiddle since November after a dip in confidence levels saw summer signing Costel Pantilimon preferred between the sticks.

But Mannone, who missed Sunderland’s FA Cup third round win over Leeds through illness, started both ties against Fulham to secure a last 16 trip to League One Bradford tomorrow.

And the former Arsenal stopper will come back into the side at Valley Parade, as Sunderland bid to reach the quarter finals of the cup for the second season on the spin.

Poyet told the Echo: “I think Vito was so important for me last year.

“Unfortunately what has happened this year has been my decision over who to play.

“But I would like to go all the way to the final, so Vito can play all the way.”

Mannone’s fellow Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford has been first-choice at Bradford this season after joining the Bantams on a season-long loan last summer.

Pickford is ineligible to feature tomorrow, but Poyet insists the only help the 20-year-old has provided to his parent club has been to give information on the awful Valley Parade pitch after the stopper was a victim of the surface in Bradford’s win over MK Dons on Monday.

“I think the only information that Picks can give us is about the pitch really,” said Poyet.

“We showed the players the pitch and Jordan’s miskick from the other week.

“But I try not to go into details because I don’t want him to feel one way or the other, and I suppose it’s the same for the other side.”

Mannone will be one of a handful of changes for Sunderland tomorrow, with fit-again Billy Jones likely to replace Anthony Reveillere at right-back, with the ex-France international ruled out with the hamstring injury sustained in Tuesday’s defeat to QPR.

Jack Rodwell is also available after missing the last three games with a groin problem and is likely to take the place of Jordi Gomez in central midfield.

“It’s important to have Jack back for that physicality,” added Poyet.

“In the last few games we’ve not been the biggest team and you need that presence sometimes.

“Jack is desperate to play too.

“He was playing against Fulham and then he couldn’t play, missed a couple of games.

“But if gets through training today, he’s got a great chance to play.”

Meanwhile, Emanuele Giaccherini remains on the sidelines, but through illness, rather than injury.