Martin O'Neill wants to tie Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to long-term contract

Goalkeeper has reportedly attracted interest from Arsenal and Manchester United

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill is desperate to tie-up keeper Simon Mignolet on a long-term contract.

The 24-year-old this week moved to reassure O'Neill that he was happy on Wearside after agent Guy Vandermissen hinted he may have to leave for a higher-profile club if he is to achieve his ambition of replacing Thibaut Courtois as Belgium's first-choice goalkeeper.

O'Neill, who celebrates his 61st birthday today, revealed talks over an extension at the Stadium of Light are under way despite Mignolet having two years of his existing deal still to run, and the Northern Irishman is determined to resolve that situation as quickly as possible.

He said: "We would really like to try to tie him down to a longer contract. There have been talks about that for some time, but I think we would really want to try to firm that up as soon as we could.

"I think he's receptive to it."

Mignolet has arguably been Sunderland's best player in a testing Barclays Premier League campaign to date, and the fact that he acted swiftly to silence the alarm bells will have come as a relief to O'Neill and the club's supporters alike, although the former was relaxed about the whole situation.

He said: "I hadn't been made aware of it at all and he came up to me to tell me that he thought there was something lost in translation.

"The agent who was working in the office had made some comment about it and really, if you think about what he said - I haven't seen it first hand and therefore, it's unfair of me to make a comment - but if the gist of it was that Atletico Madrid are a better side than Sunderland, well I am not so sure that too many people would disagree with that.

"I haven't a major problem with that. Our job is to try to make us at some time or another as good as them."

Mignolet will hope to underline his importance to the Black Cats once again tomorrow as he and his team-mates attempt to end a run of three successive league defeats by beating Fulham at the Stadium of Light.

They will do so with Republic of Ireland winger James McClean once again having been told to let his football do the talking.

The Derry-born 23-year-old this week closed his Twitter account in the wake of criticism over a tweet about the Wolfe Tones song the Broad Black Brimmer, which tells the story of a boy whose father is killed fighting for the IRA.

O'Neill said: "James himself came off Twitter before I had the conversation with him anyway, and I think he realises now. He wants to really concentrate on the game.

"He felt he was, (talking to McClean) but come off this and go and get yourself back to where you were, playing brilliantly for us this time last year."

O'Neill will be without skipper Lee Cattermole, who is facing several weeks on the sidelines after having an injection in his injured knee in a bid to avoid surgery, and hamstring victim Danny Rose.

Meanwhile, the manager has expressed his delight at Sunderland's new partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Asked how the link with the former president of South Africa compared to the big names with whom he has worked over the years, O'Neill replied with a smile: "None bigger than him, honestly.

"He said that if McClean didn't improve his performances, he was coming to play outside-left for us.

"It's really big, I must admit. He's up there with Kennedy and Martin Luther King, so there we go, it's really big. We pull them in, don't we?

"It's massive. Seriously, it's incredible. I wasn't aware of that until quite recently. It is really something.

"We should get him over for a couple of games. Maybe he will give us his blessing and push us up the table."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Sport
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
transfers
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home