Mannone will play all of Sunderland’s game with Setubal

Gus Poyet watches his Sunderland side against Nacional last night
Gus Poyet watches his Sunderland side against Nacional last night

VITO MANNONE will play the entirety of tonight’s friendly against Vitoria Setubal, as the fight to start the season as Sunderland number one continues.

Mannone has been an unused substitute for both of Sunderland’s first two games here in Portugal, with rookie Joel Dixon used in Tuesday’s clash against Recreativo de Huelva and summer signing Costel Pantilimon playing in the 1-0 defeat to CD Nacional 24 hours later.

But the reigning Player of the Year will get his chance at the Albufeira Stadium tonight, as Gus Poyet rotates his two goalkeepers.

The battle between Mannone and Pantilimon is one of the few selection dilemmas facing Poyet from his paper-thin squad, but the head coach admits he would like a few more conundrums to face, as Sunderland’s recruitment drive continues.

Poyet said: “Vito will play tonight. They (Mannone and Pantilimon) will play one each for 90 minutes.

“I would like to have plenty of decisions to make. That’s why I became a manager.

“If I’ve got two excellent right wingers, I want to pick the one who is going to win me the game.

“At the moment, I don’t have too many decisions apart from the goalkeepers.”

One of the few other posers facing Poyet is who will start the season as Sunderland’s main striker.

Poyet has stuck with his favoured 4-1-4-1 formation throughout pre-season, with Steven Fletcher or Connor Wickham battling to lead the line against West Brom in a fortnight.

The pair were both included in the starting XI against Nacional, yet Wickham was deployed on the left flank due to the meagre options available to Poyet.

“It’s a similar situation with Fletch and Connor to the goalkeepers,” added Poyet.

“Seb (Larsson) would have played the other day, but Connor was happy to play wide and we went with that system.

“It depends on them to convince me that they can play together in that situation.”