Proud Mannone takes a deserved break after clean sheets record

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AS the rest of the Championship does battle for vital promotion points tomorrow, Hull City goalkeeper Vito Mannone plans to be relaxing in a spa.

The Italian, without a game due to the Tigers’ scheduled opponents Cardiff City being in Carling Cup action against Liverpool, has earned the chance to put his feet up after setting a new club record for consecutive clean sheets.

With City facing a draining schedule of nine games in March, Mannone is adamant that relaxation will be the key ahead of the return to action a week tonight at Blackpool.

The Arsenal loanee, who has gone nine hours and 44 minutes since being beaten in the Championship, said: “I can’t do anything about the scores elsewhere so we just have to relax. We have a busy March so it is important to get a big rest.

“That is why I will be going to a spa so I can get that rest. That will be a crazy month as we play every three days. It will be like what Arsenal face in the Champions League.

“Every professional prefers games to training. We will enjoy it and the one thing with playing so often is if we make a mistake then it means we can recover very quickly.

“Every game now is a final as we want to get to Wembley or get automatic promotion so it is important we are ready.”

By the time City return to action, the hope is they are no further adrift from the top six than the current two-point gap.

Hull are in buoyant mood after stretching their run of clean sheets to six with the midweek draw against Brighton.

Mannone, the first Tigers goalkeeper to achieve the feat since 1908, said: “It is a great achievement for everyone. You could see (against Brighton) we defended with character and looked really solid, from the front man all the way through the team.

“It was a good feeling to get the clean sheet, even though I was disappointed not to have won.

“Playing behind this defence is great because I know where I need help. They are always there. Also, in the last six games I have been able to help them out when needed so that has been pleasing.

“We are all very proud, especially as it is a long time since the club managed six in a row. I once went five games for Italy Under-21s. I also had a few good runs at Arsenal but never six before.

“As a goalkeeper, clean sheets are what I live for. My job is to keep the ball out of the net so to do it, with a lot of help from the team, is very pleasing.”

The midweek left City in eighth but with games on hand against many of their promotion rivals.

Mannone added: “The fans were great on Wednesday, especially how they clapped us off the field.

“They could see with the chances we created how well we played, especially on a bad pitch like this.”