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Mannone calls out Szczesny

ITALIAN goalkeeper Vito Mannone has warned Wojciech Szczesny to expect a fight for the Arsenal number one jersey this season.

The 24-year-old has deputised for the injured Poland international in the Gunners' last two Premier League games -- recording a clean sheet in both.

While Szczesny, recovering from a minor rib problem, is expected to return for the visit of Southampton on September 15, Mannone maintains he has come a long way since a calamitous display in a Champions League game at Olympiacos last December.

He puts a large part of that down to a confidence-building and productive four-month loan spell with Hull in the Championship.

"I have improved in every part of the goalkeeper position. In my mind as well, I came back stronger and stronger," Mannone said.

"Especially after the mistake at Olympiacos -- it is never easy to come back, but when I have got my back against the wall, I don't mind.

"I just roll up my sleeves and try to work because I know I can do well.

"It is a good fight between the keepers because we know the level is quite high and you need to keep working and improve yourself to get the first spot."

Lukasz Fabianski and young Argentine Damian Martinez are the other goalkeepers available to manager Arsene Wenger.


Mannone, though, feels his spell of regular football with Hull -- during which he kept a club record six consecutive clean sheets -- has given him an extra edge.

"When you are number one, you feel important and like the happiest man in the world, that sort of feeling gives me the chance to go onto the pitch with confidence," Mannone said.

"I had some good games (at Hull) and it was a great experience for me.

"The best thing was playing senior football and playing consecutive games and getting the mentality of the number one."

Mannone added: "I know Arsenal, everybody here and I am really happy when I am involved, like now.

"I would like to be involved more and more and establish myself."

Arsenal have confirmed their squad lists for the Premier League and European campaign, listing all players available, although the likes of Martinez, 21-year-old midfielder Craig Eastmond, young German Thomas Eisfeld and Spain youth international Hector Bellerin will not be part of the Champions League group.

Russian midfielder Andrey Arshavin is also on the list, but could yet move away from the Emirates before the transfer window in his home country closes, with Dynamo Moscow said to be a possible destination.


The majority of Arsenal's first team are away on international duty, with Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, while Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker link up for Germany.

Wenger will also be keeping his fingers crossed impressive summer signing Santi Cazorla, who also opened his account at Anfield, will show no ill effects from being involved for Spain in the friendly against Saudi Arabia and World Cup tie in Georgia.

Ivory Coast forward Gervinho, meanwhile, is set for Africa Cup of Nations qualifying action against Senegal.