Cape Town - Sunderland
goalkeeper Vito Mannone says he is not worried about Jordan Pickford's
form as he is the 'number one' goalkeeper at the Premier League
The Italian's injury in the beginning of the campaign saw manager David Moyes turn to the 22-year-old Pickford to deputise in his absence.
Despite languishing at the bottom of the table, with only one win all season, the academy graduate managed to win a senior call-up to the English national team for his inspiring displays with the Black Cats.
Now, as Mannone returns, he says he will prove why he is the club's first choice shot-stopper again.
"For me, I left the pitch when I was No 1 and I am still No 1 in my mind," he told The Echo.
"I want to be back. I haven't been fit in the last couple of months and haven't been on the pitch to compete.
"As I was injured, I couldn't do anything about it," the former Arsenal keeper added.
"Now I'm back, I can push and hopefully get my place back and prove to the manager I am still number one.
"At the end of the day, I want to help this team and I want to help this club going forward and give something to the fans who come in great numbers every time to watch us."
Mannone has been out of action since going under the knife after rupturing elbow ligaments in training. Before their recent 2-1 victory over Bournemouth, Sunderland have broken the record for the worst start by an English Premiership team.