Vito Mannone has signed a new two-year deal with Sunderland after a rollercoaster season with the club.
Mannone started the season as second-choice goalkeeper at the Stadium of Light and was close to leaving the North East in the January transfer window, such was his frustration at being behind Costel Pantilimon in the pecking order.
However, Pantilimon would instead leave the club, joining Watford, while Mannone went on to establish himself as first choice on Wearside and play a key role as Sunderland survived the drop.
The Italian has now been rewarded for his contributions with a contract renewal as he readies himself for another strong season, having returned to training with the team today.
Pre-season competition awaits
Despite Mannone having become Sunderland's number one at the turn of the year, he faces a tough task in keeping that position in the squad this summer.
Young Jordan Pickford was recalled from his loan spell with Preston North End before Pantilimon departed, assuming the role as back-up stopper once the Romanian left the club.
The highly-rated youngster impressed as he made his competitive debut for the club against Arsenal, and did the same when he made his league debut against Tottenham Hotspur a week later, despite both games ending in defeat for the Black Cats.
With a whole host of top clubs linked with the 21-year-old, including Manchester United, Sunderland are expected to give him a bigger role this season as they aim to stave off suitors.
For a side that kept just seven clean sheets in 38 Premier League outings last term, competition in between the sticks can only be good for Sam Allardyce as he looks to establish the Wearsiders in the top flight and end their annual relegation struggles.