Ill Sunderland stopper Mannone faces journey home alone

Vito Mannone

Vito Mannone

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VITO MANNONE will be separated from the rest of the Sunderland squad flying back to the UK today, to avoid his virus becoming contagious.

Goalkeeper Mannone was due to start last night’s final friendly here in Portugal against Vitoria Setubal, yet was forced to pull out of the encounter due to a stomach illness.

The Italian will instead start Thursday’s encounter against Real Betis or next weekend’s clash against Udinese - both of which take place at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park ground.

But with Sunderland flying home tonight, Mannone will be sectioned off from his team-mates to ensure the virus does not spread.

Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet said: “It was a stomach issue, but nothing serious.

“We have kept him completely apart and he will travel back to the airport separately today to minimise the chances of any virus being passed on – that’s the last thing we need at this moment in time.

“It’s typical, because he was due to play last night, but now he will play on either Thursday or Saturday instead.”

Mannone’s goalkeeping rival Costel Pantilimon completed the full 90 minutes of last Wednesday’s friendly against CD Nacional and they were due to swap rules for the last of the three games on the Algarve.

But ex-Manchester City stopper Pantilimon got a second run-out after the rotation was disrupted by Mannone’s illness.

Poyet added: “We decided with Andy Beasley (goalkeeping coach) that the goalkeepers would play one game each in Portugal.

“Joel Dixon played on Tuesday and for whatever reason I decided to play Costel on Wednesday and Vito on Saturday.

“So you can imagine how disappointed Vito was to miss out yesterday.”