Mannone or Pantilimon? Who will Poyet play for Sunderland at Crystal Palace?

WHO WILL PLAY?  Mannone (left) or Pantilimon?
WHO WILL PLAY? Mannone (left) or Pantilimon?

GUS POYET admits Sunderland’s goalkeeping issue is the biggest decision he faces for Monday night’s trip to Crystal Palace.

Last year’s Player of the Season Vito Mannone is in jeopardy of losing his starting spot for the pivotal clash at Selhurst Park after his stoppage time blunder against Arsenal last weekend followed his mistakes at Southampton seven days earlier.

Rival Costel Pantilimon is yet to make his Premier League debut for Sunderland after arriving in a summer Bosman deal from Manchester City, with the Romanian limited to two outings in the Capital One Cup.

But head coach Poyet is weighing up the merits of whether to hand Pantilimon his long-awaited opportunity or keep faith in Mannone.

Poyet told SportMail: “Yeah, probably (it’s the biggest decision for Palace) because it’s the goalkeeper.

“If it was right wing, nobody would give it such importance.

“But that’s why I like being here, because of the decisions. I do like it, a lot.

“The decision is a matter of whether you give another opportunity or if that was enough. Do you feel he’s all right to play or do you think it’s better not to for the team?

“Sometimes it’s the most difficult part for the players to accept.

“Do you want to change it, or back him up?

“Everything depends on how he performs, and what’s going round in his head.

“If you play Costel, I didn’t back him (Mannone) up. These are opinions you’re going to have all the time. The decision is mine, which is what I like.”

Mannone was responsible for at least two of the goals in the 8-0 drubbing at Southampton and was caught out at the death against the Gunners after failing to clear Will Buckley’s poor back pass first time.

However, Poyet insists the Italian has reacted positively on the training ground this week.

He added: “Vito’s been all right, we’ve watched the clips with him. That’s normal every week.

“We’ve talked about it, he’s been training all right.

“I think it’s just part of the job, I don’t think it’s anything (to worry about).

“You know, he wasn’t in the side when I got here, because we had Keiren Westwood. He knows how we are, so it’s no problem.”

Meanwhile, rookie Sunderland keeper Joel Dixon has joined Conference North side Boston United on a one-month loan.

It’s the second time that Dixon, who had a loan stint with Hartlepool United earlier this season, has moved to Boston after spending time there last season.