Newcastle United head coach Steve McClaren insists his side’s five-game losing streak to Sunderland in derby matches will mean nothing when the two teams lock horns on Sunday.
Fresh from a stunning 6-2 win over Norwich City in their last outing, Newcastle are desperate to end a dreadful run of performances against their local rivals, an unwanted streak which has seen them lose five in succession and fail to win any of the last seven derbies.
Sunderland are the only side in the Premier League who are yet to win any of their opening nine matches, but will be hoping to draw upon their past successes in new manager Sam Allardyce’s second game in charge.
McClaren, though, has described the clash as a “great opportunity” to end Newcastle’s losing derby run, which he thinks will mean nothing when it comes to kick-off time.
“We don’t know anything about the five previous games and neither do half the team,” he said.
“It is a fresh game and a great opportunity for us. I don’t want buoyancy in the squad after Norwich win, I want focus on the Sunderland game.
“This game is massive for the fans and there is a determination to win it for them.
“The Norwich win was a relief, so credit to the players and staff. We felt it was coming and now we have a result but we won’t get carried away.
“The approach for this game is no different and should be no different. We have to play the game and not the occasion. It is a tough game and we will have to play really well.”
McClaren also had positive injury news to report, revealing Rolando Aarons and Kevin Mbabu are now back in training, giving him a full-strength squad to choose from for the game at the Stadium of Light.