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Sam Allardyce: 'Vito Mannone is still Sunderland number one'

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce insists that Vito Mannone remains his first-choice keeper despite Jordan Pickford starting two of the last three games.

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has revealed that Vito Mannone remains the club's first-choice goalkeeper despite sitting out two of the last three games.

Allardyce handed a debut to Jordan Pickford for the FA Cup meeting with Arsenal earlier this month, before recalling the 21-year-old again for last weekend's defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

However, Mannone played against Swansea City in between those two games, and Allardyce has insisted that the Italian keeper is still the number one as things stand.

Asked whether Pickford had become his first choice, Allardyce told reporters: "No, Vito. On the basis of his game against Arsenal, I thought it would be good to put [Pickford] in rather than wait too long, put him in after a good game against Arsenal to see what he could do in the Premier League, but then assure Vito that for the time being he is number one and will continue to be number one until such time as his performances don't acquire that position.

"It's up to him now. He's waited long and patiently for the chance to re-establish himself as number one. I believe before I came, a couple of years ago, he was player of the year, so he has shown those capabilities.

"Hopefully he can continue to show those capabilities and keep young Pick at bay. But we do know young Pick is eager to take his place and he knows that, so I think that's good competition."

Mannone is expected to return to the starting lineup for Sunderland's relegation battle with Bournemouth at the Stadium of Light this weekend.

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Costel Pantilimon of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford on September 26, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
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