Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has warned £9million goalkeeper Craig Gordon he will have to remain patient as he attempts to win back a place in the team.
The Black Cats paid a British record fee for a goalkeeper when then manager Roy Keane tempted the 27-year-old south from Hearts during the summer of 2007.
Gordon convinced Bruce of his quality at the back end of last season after recovering from the arm fracture he suffered at Tottenham in November, and young Belgian Simon Mignolet was recruited as cover during the close-season with Marton Fulop heading for the exit door.
However, the 22-year-old found himself thrown in at the deep end when Gordon sustained a second break in pre-season training and Bruce decided not to bring in a stop-gap replacement. The former Sint-Truiden player's response has exceeded all expectations and while Gordon is now fit and back in contention, he has had to be content with a seat on the bench for the past three games.
Bruce said: "I have got a big problem, which we enjoy. The young keeper has been unflappable. He has done fantastically. I have also got a goalkeeper who was exceptional for me at the back end of last season. However, I have got to be true to the squad, otherwise you lose them.
"Craig understands that the kid is playing out of his skin and he will have to be patient, just like [John] Mensah and [Cristian] Riveros and the rest of them who can't break into the team at the moment. That shows you the strength in depth we have managed to attract over the last 12, 15 months, and it bodes well."