Sunderland stopper claims survival this season will be special

Sunderland currently sit just outside the drop-zone, separated by only goal difference from Norwich City below them in the table.

Vito Mannone has told Sky Sports how special it would be if Sunderland can avoid the drop this season.

His comments come just three months after he was prepared to walk out of the North East club after becoming a mainstay on the Black Cats' bench. Their first-choice goalkeeper Costil Pantilimon was moved on to Watford , however, and since then Mannone has played in every game.

He told Sky Sports News how he and his teammates are hopeful of retaining their Premier League status.

"When you're fighting at the bottom it's heavy with the pressure, but if you turn it the other way it's nice to do something special for yourself, your family. the club, the fans, everybody involved," he said. "It's something we want to achieve and hopefully we can do it."

The former Arsenal man was impressive against his old club in their 0-0 draw on Sunday and Mannone spoke of his delight at being a first-team regular again.

"Since the manager came in we had a good relationship," he said. "He gave me that chance finally before the transfer window when I was really thinking 'if I'm not playing I'm going'. It's great to be back between the sticks and trying to do the best I can to help the team survive."

On paper, Sunderland appear to have an extremely tough run-in with a trip to Stoke City up next, followed by home games against Chelsea and Everton before a final day showdown at Vicarage Road against Watford.

Norwich also have tough fixtures remaining with games against Arsenal and Manchester United to come, and it would not be a surprise to anybody if the fight for survival goes down to the last game of the season.

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