Sunderland go into their eagerly awaited Tyne-Wear derby looking for their first victory over Newcastle since October 2008. The Magpies have certainly enjoyed the upper hand in this fixture of late but will be wary going into the clash with Martin O’Neill’s men, who unbeaten at the Stadium of Light so far this season.
The Black Cats are looking to recover from their disappointing 3-0 defeat at Manchester City in their last league outing and could welcome back both defender Phil Bardsley and winger James McClean from ankle and groin injuries respectively. Elsewhere, skipper Lee Cattermole completes the final match of his three-match ban while Titus Bramble is doubtful.
After his return to the Scotland international fold, Steven Fletcher is looking to keep up his record of scoring in every home match for his new club since his arrival from Wolves.
Newcastle have enjoyed a tidy start to the season but have yet to hit the heights of last term when the likes of Papiss Cisse, Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba nearly spearheaded Alan Pardew’s men into the Champions League. So far, only Ba, currently the league’s top scorer, has come anywhere near those heights. But what better place for them to find their form than at the Stadium of Light?
The Magpies remain without long-term injury victim Ryan Taylor but could welcome back Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul who all returned to training earlier this week after injury lay-offs.
Up front, Pardew must choose whether to continue with Ba and Cisse or drop the latter and pursue a more defensive orientation.