VITO MANNONE has been told he will start this Thursday’s friendly with Real Betis at Bishop Auckland – provided he recovers from illness in time.
The Italian goalkeeper had the misfortune of having to stay at the team hotel on Saturday because of the bug, which meant he could not feature in the final friendly in the Algarve.
Mannone was due to face Vitoria Setubal, but in the end summer signing Costel Pantilimon had to make his second consecutive appearance and he kept a clean sheet in a goalless draw.
Pantilimon hopes to stay between the posts for the opening Premier League game of the season on August 16 at West Brom, so Mannone would have preferred to face Vitoria.
But Poyet will look to give one of last season’s fans’ favourites an outing at Heritage Park against the Spanish side Betis.
“It was a stomach issue that kept Vito out,” said Poyet. “It’s nothing serious. He had to be completely apart from the group on Saturday and he will have to travel in a different place to the rest of the squad on Sunday to make sure we don’t get any virus passing through the squad.
“I hope he is OK soon because he would have played on Saturday. He will play on Thursday if he’s ok. We decided with Andy Beasley (head goalkeeper coach) that each goalkeeper would play one each in Portugal.
“We picked Costel on Wednesday and Vito for Saturday and in the end Costel played the two games. He knows how important he is for us, nothing more.”
The goalkeeper position is of no concern to Poyet, believing he can rely on two senior men this season in that area of the pitch. He is, though, looking to strengthen other areas and is confident players will arrive before the Betis friendly.
Among others, Uruguayan striker Abel Hernandez, of Palermo, has been offered to Sunderland and Southampton are believed to be keen. Sunderland striker Connor Wickham, yet to sign a contract, was linked with Newcastle on Sunday.