Toon fans will be buoyed by the news that Tim Krul, Steven Taylor and Fabio Coloccini have all recovered from injuries and are expected to make the squad. The Magpies go into the game on the back of a 3-0 hiding at home to Manchester United earlier in the month and the news of defensive reinforcement could not be timely given the goal-threat of Mackems striker Steven Fletcher.
The Scottish target-man has scored five goals in five Premier League matches this season and the Barclays Player of the Month will be itching to add to that tally in his first Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday.
Despite only winning once in the league, Sunderland have proven difficult to beat this season, drawing four and losing just once. They will fancy their chances against a Newcastle side searching for consistency and struggling for goals.
Newcastle, though, have fared very well on Wearside in recent years and are unbeaten in their last 15 visits. History appears to suggest it will be Alan Pardew, not Martin O’Neill, punching the air come full-time.
KICK-OFF: Sunday, 1.30pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Newcastle 1 (Ameobi) Sunderland 1 (Bendtner), Premier League, March 2012
Sunderland 0 Newcastle 1 (R Taylor), Premier League, August 2011
Sunderland 1 (Gyan) Newcastle 1 (Nolan), Premier League, January 2011
Newcastle have won 53 of their competitive fixtures with Sunderland. The Mackems have won 44 and 48 contests have ended in draws.
The record-holder for the most Tyne-Wear derby goals is George Holley (Sunderland) with 15 goals (1904-1919). The current player with the most derby goals is Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi (7).
Sunderland’s Titus Bramble and Louis Saha are two of just 57 players to play professionally for both Newcastle and Sunderland in 120 years.
Sunderland to win: 2.62
Newcastle to win: 3
The rivalry between the clubs dates back to the English Civil War. Newcastle supported the monarchy, Sunderland was staunchly republican.
Sunderland’s 2-1 win at St James’s Park in 1999 when Alan Shearer was dropped by Ruud Gullit.
TV: Live Super Sunday, Sky Sports 1 at 1pm