GUS POYET is confident Vito Mannone will bounce back from his error against Manchester City and insists the goalkeeper is in the right frame of mind going into this afternoon’s trip to Chelsea.
The Black Cats were on course for a shock win at the Etihad Stadium thanks to Connor Wickham’s second-half double, but Mannone spilled Samir Nasri’s shot into the goal with minutes left on the clock.
It was an uncharacteristic error from the Italian keeper having been Sunderland’s best performer all season, but it meant the Black Cats missed out on the chance to claim what could have been three valuable points in their fight against relegation.
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Mannone was understandably distraught to have gifted City a late equaliser in the aftermath of the game, but Poyet has revealed he still has all his faith in the 26-year-old.
“It was difficult for him on the night and on Thursday,” said Poyet, who is without Phil Bardsley, Liam Bridcutt, Ki Sung-Yeung and Carlos Cuellar this afternoon. “But today (Friday) we were just talking about Chelsea. He will play again and be part of something important.
“We all learn from situations and you don't know players very well until something happens, so we will learn about him. He didn't change my mind about him.
“We had a good chat on Thursday, but that’s it. I need him to stay calm. He looks alright, not delighted, but he looks okay. It’s gone now. The quicker that he puts it behind him the better. He’s just want to play.
“It would be very unfair to question Vito because he has been outstanding and I hope he proves that. All the people who like Vito would like to see him perform and to see him back to his best.
“When you have a son, the first thing you say to him is don't play in goal - any position except goalkeeper, It doesn't matter how well you play or how many saves you make, if you make a mistake it's going to cost a goal.
“It's the worst position. Keepers know they have to live with it and have to cope with it. I have no doubt he will bounce back and it's not a problem for me.”
Poyet is likely to name an unchanged team at Stamford Bridge this afternoon, despite an impressive cameo from Emanuele Giaccherini.
The Italian has divided opinions since he arrived from Juventus in the summer, but Poyet believes getting the best out of him boils down to playing him in the right situations.
He said: “We need to use him well. I know more about him now than I did, like where he wants to play.
“He really wants to play in the middle three but there are games in England when you need power. He’s got different abilities but not the power to compete with some players.
“I thought he was more of a wide player for the game in England. I watched plenty of his games in Italy. He played wide but also as a full-back. Can he do that in England? I don’t think so.
“He’s a great professional and if you give him a couple of key passes and we score he is going to be playing the week after, because that quality is what we have missed for a long period regardless of whether he has played or not.”
The Black Cats face the daunting task of trying to overcome Chelsea’s incredible home record under Jose Mourinho with the Blues undefeated at Stamford Bridge in 77 games in his two spells in charge.
Poyet has maintained his side will have to produce “special” results in order to achieve the great escape and the Black Cats boss has warned his side could have a say in where the Premier League ends up come May 11.
“Maybe Sunderland can decide the title on way or another, but we don't play for anybody apart from ourselves,” Poyet said.
“It would be even more of a shock if we beat Chelsea because they haven’t lost at home under Mourinho in the league. The idea is to go and be brave, not in terms of taking risks, but to play the way we play.”