Simon Mignolet

Gardner backs super Simon

by Stuart Vose

Midfielder says number one will bounce back.

Craig Gardner launched a strong defence of Simon Mignolet after the Belgian made a rare error in the defeat to West Brom.

Mignolet spilled a through ball into the path of Shane Long, who netted as Albion went on to see off two Sunderland comebacks in a 4-2 win.

Simon will probably never do that again and I think he’s the best keeper in the league at the minute

- Craig Gardner

Sunderland’s number one has been in fine form this season and Gardner was quick to praise his contributions after the game.

“Simon will probably never do that again and I think he’s the best keeper in the league at the minute,” said the midfielder, who appeared as a first-half substitute.

“He’s been top class day in, day out in training – his attitude and the saves he makes are unbelievable.”

Gardner added: “Look at all the saves he’s made this season. He doesn’t need me or the manager to stand here and say he’s brilliant.

“He’s the best keeper in the league, honestly. This won’t faze him. He’ll be back in the next game.”

A six-goal thriller ended in favour of the Baggies despite Sunderland twice pulling within a goal.

The visitors were 2-0 up at the break before Gardner reduced the deficit with a fine free-kick.

Stephane Sessegnon netted his second goal in as many games following Romelu Lukaku’s penalty, but a late goal from sub Marc-Antoine Fortune sealed the win for the visitors.

“The gaffer told us at half-time that we were still in it and not to give up, not that we ever give up anyway,” Gardner added.

“We got one back but then the penalty came. I didn’t think it was a penalty, but that’s not for me to say.

“Then we got other one back and we had to go for it – you may as well lose 5-2 than 3-2.

“We went for it and they caught us on the break.”