Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mignolet Hoping to Keep His Spot

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mignolet Hoping to Keep His Spot

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

A DIFFICULT Sunderland debut did nothing to shake Simon Mignolet's firm belief that he has got what it takes to be a Premier League goalkeeper. Now, just three matches later, he is looking to reduce Britain's most expensive goalkeeper to the role of substitute. The Belgian endured a couple of jittery moments on his top-flight debut, letting Birmingham City's opening goal through his legs, then failing to come for the cross which produced an equaliser.

But an excellent performance in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic has opened the debate about whether first-choice Craig Gordon should come straight back into the side. The decision will have to be made soon, with Gordon targeting the September 25 match at Liverpool as the date of his return following a broken arm. Even the best foreign goalkeepers traditionally take a while adapting to English football, where the style is more direct and the crosses more frequent. Mignolet was hardly handed a big vote of confidence this summer when manager Steve Bruce responded to Gordon's training-ground injury by casting the net for a goalkeeper with experience of top-flight football. David James' reluctance to move north and the Black Cats board's unwillingness to sign a second goalkeeper put paid to that. But if Bruce was hesitant about how the Belgian would take to English football, the 22-year-old quickly dispelled his own doubts.

"You always have to adapt and, in the first couple of games, I didn't really know what to expect from English football," he admitted. "I gave two silly goals away in the first game, but even after that, I was thinking, 'I know I can do this'. "I knew straight away that I could match the level needed in the Premier League. "After the first game, I felt really well. There were two silly goals, but I felt this level is the level you can play at if you want to. …

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