EX-ARSENAL keeper Vito Mannone says he has not given up hope of starting next season as Sunderland’s number one keeper.
The £2m signing from the Emirates is widely viewed as Keiren Westwood’s deputy next season with the Republic of Ireland international expected to be given the nod to take over the number one shirt now that Simon Mignolet has been sold.
Mannone’s jobs is seen as being standby stopper in case the former Manchester City, Carlisle and Coventry City keeper gets injured or suspended.
But Mannone says head coach Paolo Di Canio has not said there are team orders for the coming campaign on who is first or second-choice keeper.
And he is hoping that if he impresses enough in training, he will be considered on level terms with the Irishman.
“I haven’t asked the manager about that situation – now is not the time, because I have just come into a new club,” said the 25-year-old.
“I need to put myself in the picture and first of all we need to get fit and get ready because the pre-season is the most important time.
“But I came here because I want to play and I can’t hide that.
“I don’t think there is any player in the world who doesn’t want to play.
“We live in a world of competition and I would like to win that competition!
“I consider myself a fighter and I am ready to battle for a place in the side.”
Mannone hopes that unlike his rival at the club, he is able to establish himself fairly quickly.
Westwood arrived on Wearside in 2011 with the reputation as the best goalkeeper outside the top flight.
But he had little chance to show how good was, as his arrival coincided with an upturn in Simon Mingolet’s form and fortune – the Belgian showing in the last season and a half that he was one of the very best keepers in the league with a string of stand-out performances.
Those consistently stunning displays earned him a £9m move to Liverpool this summer and Westwood is now out to prove that while Mignolet’s departure is a blow, Sunderland still have a top class keeper on their books.
Mannone’s aim is to show Sunderland they have two!
Like Westwood, the Italian has also spent much of his time as backup, making only 15 league appearances for the Gunners in eight years at the Emirates – although he did play games during loan spells at Barnsley and Hull City.
“I’m excited to have joined Sunderland,” said a keeper who undoubtedly has his best years ahead of him.
“I hope I will have more first-team chances here than at Arsenal – that is why I joined, because I want to do my best and to play in games.
“I had a few chances at Arsenal, but not so many and not so clear.
“Hopefully this will be a good step for me.”