Vito Mannone has nothing to prove to Arsenal according to Sunderland boss Gus Poyet
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet insists goalkeeper Vito Mannone has nothing to prove against his former team Arsenal.
Last Updated: 20/02/14 6:06pm
The 25-year-old returns to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday for the first time after ending his eight-year spell at Arsenal last summer.
Mannone has established himself as first-choice at Sunderland since replacing Keiren Westwood between the posts in November.
After some deliberation, Poyet decided to give the Italian stopper an opportunity to impress against Manchester City, and Mannone has taken full advantage.
Poyet said: "It is true that it was one of the hardest decisions I have made before the Manchester City game, to play Vito or to play Westy.
"Sometimes you make decisions that don't go for you and you make a massive mistake and you need to rectify it and go back, and sometimes the player proves you right and he becomes a success.
"But that's up to the player. Vito is not playing well because I put him in against Manchester City. Vito is playing well because he is doing well and he is in a great moment.
"This game for him should be a great day. He needs to take it as a very enjoyable day and not that he has something to prove, because then he will change the whole approach and the whole feeling during the game.
"I haven't talked to him, to be honest, I am trying to give the same importance as any other game to this one, no more than normal."
Meanwhile, Poyet expressed his delight at on hearing of full-back Phil Bardsley's call into the Scotland squad to play Poland next month, a match that will take place just after Sunderland face City in the final of the Capital One Cup.
Bardsley's future at the Stadium of Light looked bleak at the start of the season after he was sent to train with the U21s by former boss Paolo Di Canio, but he has played a key role in Sunderland's recent revival.
Poyet said: "What a year. It started very dark for Phil. It looked really bad and finished, and now he finds himself in the national team, which is great.
"I hope he takes that opportunity as well. I hope he can go really happy because that means we won the final."