Pantilimon to fight for number one spot

The Advertiser Series: CATS KEEPER: New Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, who has joined from Manchester City CATS KEEPER: New Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, who has joined from Manchester City

COSTEL Pantilimon has set his sights on becoming Sunderland’s new number one after signing a four-year deal at Stadium of Light.

Pantilimon completed his move to Wearside on Monday night after leaving Premier League champions Manchester City when his contract expired at the end of last season.

Black Cats boss Gus Poyet had been in the market for a new goalkeeper after allowing Keiren Westwood to leave, but it is understood Pantilimon has not arrived to be Vito Mannone’s understudy.

Instead, Poyet is likely to give both keepers an equal chance of claiming the number one jersey when the squad returns to pre-season training next month, despite the fact Mannone received the club’s Player of the Season award for a string of fine performances that helped keep the Black Cats in the Premier League last season.

Pantilimon spent three seasons at the Etihad Stadium as back-up to England number one Joe Hart, but the 27-year-old revealed he has moved to Sunderland in order to play more regularly.

“I’m happy to be here,” the Romanian said. “It’s a good opportunity for me. It’s a great club with fantastic fans and I am sure I have made the right decision to come here.

“I played against Sunderland when I was at Man City. To be here now is strange but I’m happy because I really feel this is right and I’m sure it’s going to be a great period. I hope to get good results.

“I said when I left Man City that I want to play and help this team. Vito is a great keeper and we will fight to help this team. It’s the most important thing for us to help the team get results.”

Pantilimon had offers from West Ham and Arsenal, admits he was sold by Poyet’s vision for the Black Cats. The keeper also revealed it was his desire to stay in the Premier League and believes he can win trophies during his time on Wearside.

He said: “It was an easy decision. I talked with the manager. He is a great manager with a strong mind. He’s ambitious and he convinced me very quickly to come here. I hope we can do a great job together.

“It’s a very important move for me. I chose to come here because I think it’s a great opportunity to improve, work with a great manager and a great squad. I wanted to stay in the Premier League and I hope I can do well over the next few seasons.

“I consider the Premier League one of the best leagues in the world. I spent three years at Man City and now I start a new chapter with Sunderland and I hope to win trophies and I believe we can do it.”

Meanwhile, Sunderland are waiting to find out the extent of Jozy Altidore’s injury.

The striker was stretchered off in the first half of the USA’s 2-1 win over Ghana on Monday night after pulling up with a hamstring injury and he is likely to find out in the next 24 hours whether his World Cup is over.

Should scans show a tear, the 24-year-old could miss the start of pre-season.

“I was sprinting and I felt something. We’ll see what happens,” Altidore told the press afterwards. “I was crushed. I knew right away I couldn’t continue. It was the worst feeling.”

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