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Mignolet not certain of number one spot
HE might have established himself as Sunderland's top goalkeeper last season, but Simon Mignolet has revealed he still doesn't consider himself as the club's number one.
The Belgium stopper arrived at the Stadium of Light two years ago as a relative unknown, but a serious of injuries to Craig Gordon saw the 23-year-old thrust into first-team action.
And even the arrival of Republic of Ireland international Keiran Westwood last summer couldn't dislodge Mignolet as Steve Bruce and then Martin O'Neill kept faith.
However, despite his emergence, Mignolet insists he doesn't consider himself to be the main man yet. There were suggestions boss O'Neill, who hopes to tie up a deal to sign Wolves striker Steven Fletcher this week, could give Westwood a chance this season, but Mignolet appears to in front at the moment.
"The main aim is to build on last season, have a good-pre season and make sure I stay fit and hopefully can play a season like I did last year and even better if possible," Mignolet said.
"I don't want to speak in those terms like I am the number one. We have other goalkeepers in the squad and they work hard. Keiran is back now so he'll start training on Monday after the Euros.
"There's not just him. We have some really good young guys coming through the younger sides, so there's plenty competition, which is good."
Mignolet started last Friday's pre-season defeat to Hartlepool United before being replaced by Westwood at half time.
There was a chance the Republic of Ireland man could have started at Victoria Park having returned from his extended holiday earlier than asked, but Mignolet got the nod even though he had sustained a groin strain in the club's tour of Korea.
"It's fine (the injury). It was more precautionary that I didn't play the second game in Korea. I just needed to rest it a little bit. I didn't feel anything against Hartlepool, which was pleasing and that's another 45 minutes under the belt in pre-season."
Steve Howard scored the only goal of the game to secure Pools a win but, despite still being in pre-season, Mignolet admits the Black Cats were upset with their performance.
He said: "Pre-season is about building up the fitness, but that doesn't mean we're not disappointed we lost.
"We've already worked on things in pre-season and we want to win the games. On the other hand it is still pre-season and it's up to us to get our bodies in shape for the new season and hopefully we'll be in good shape for the first game of the season at Arsenal.
"We might be a bit tired, but on the other hand that's not an excuse. If we play against a team like Hartlepool with all respect to them we have to win."
The Black Cats will train everyday this week ahead of Saturday's trip to take on Helsingborgs and O'Neill should have his entire squad available after his international players returned to training after their involvement in Euro 2012.