Vito Mannone has challenged Jack Rodwell to silence his doubters as the Italian sets out to prove a point of his own in the new Premier League season.
Rodwell is the most expensive and high-profile of Sunderland’s seven summer signings – which now include Will Buckley after his £2.5m arrival was confirmed. Two years ago Rodwell was regarded as one of England’s brightest prospects but a lack of first-team action last season meant he was never seriously considered for the World Cup. His £10m move is a chance to put that right.
“Jack should be a great addition because he has all the qualities you want in a player,” said Mannone.
“It’s down to Jack now to prove everyone wrong from the past few years because he has so much quality. He needs to get in the team, and if he does thatI’m sure he will be an important player for us.”
Buckley will fill the wing role vacated by Fabio Borini at West Bromwich Albion, although Sunderland still hope to push through a £14m deal for their former loanee. With Costel Pantilimon, Jordi Gomez, Billy Jones, Patrick van Aanholt and Santiago Vergini also joining, the squad has a stronger look.
“It definitely feels as though things are falling into place,” commented Mannone. “It’s good to have some new players in the squad, especially of the quality of Jack and Santi. We know Santiago from last year, and when he played against Betis (in his second “debut”), it looked as though he had never left.”
The signing of Romanian Pantilimon, also from Manchester City, could relegate Mannone to the bench at the Hawthorns.
“There is nothing new about having competition – it has happened at every club I have been at,” said the ex-Arsenal goalkeeper. “It is normal. Maybe sometimes for the people outside the club it is strange, but it is normal for us as players.
“I just need to prove I am the best, and give every reason to the gaffer to keep picking me.
“Hopefully, we will have another big season, especially with all the teams around the Premier League reinforcing their team.
“We need to make points at the beginning this time to enable us to kick on later on.”