‘No surprise’ at Costel Pantilimon influence, says Sunderland legend

Niall Quinn is pleased to see former Manchester City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon making his mark at Sunderland.

Pantilimon switched Manchester for Sunderland over the summer, signing for the Black Cats on a free transfer.

Having spent two years as second-choice stopper at the Etihad, Pantilimon left the club in the search for consistent first-team football. However, he was left on the bench by Sunderland boss Gus Poyet at the start of the season, with the Uruguyan coach keeping faith in Vito Mannone - who played a key part in their survival at the end of last term.

Mannone impressed in the opening stages of the campaign, but, after a calamitous two-game spell - with 10 goals conceded against Southampton and Arsenal - 27-year-old Pantilimon was given his first league start of the season against Crystal Palace - helping the Black Cats to a 3-1 victory.

Since then, the Romanian has kept his place, and Sunderland have yet to lose since he has been in the team. He has conceded just two goals in those four games, and his last two have been rewarded with clean sheets, including registering a shut-out against Chelsea- becoming the first goalkeeper to prevent the Blues scoring since the start of the season.

The former City man has endeared himself to the Wearside crowds following his impressive performances, and Sunderland legend Niall Quinn believes that Pantilimon has been a key part of their recent upturn in fortunes.

Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, Quinn - who played, managed and chaired the club - said: “I am a big fan of Pantilimon – he looks the part.

“He’s a giant of a man and it’s no surprise they’ve started keeping clean sheets with him.

“He got another at the weekend and that is no coincidence with him around.

“The defence looks to have now been sorted out and Pantilimon has boosted that.”

Pantilimon will be looking to register his third successive clean sheet on Wednesday evening, as his former club travel to the Stadium of Light looking to close the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea.

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