Danny Simpson spent a spell on loan with Sunderland while playing for Manchester United, and the 23-year-old has returned to fitness in time for the derby. With James Perch looking suspect for the Magpies, expect Simpson to slot in at right-back for Newcastle.
Sol Campbell (thigh) looks set to miss out against the side he turned down this summer. Steven Taylor (shoulder) looks to have lost his battle to make the bench, and played no part against Arsenal in the midweek League Cup defeat.
Hatem Ben Arfa (broken leg), Dan Gosling (knee) and Steve Harper (collar bone) are all long-term absentees for Newcastle.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Enrique; Barton, Tiote, Nolan, Gutierrez; Carroll, Ameobi
Kieran Richardson (hamstring) has trained this week but Steve Bruce is unlikely to risk the Englishman from the start. Instead, Phil Bardsley looks set to continue at left-back in a defence that has kept three clean sheets in a row.
Andy Reid is unavailable, after an emergency loan move to Sheffield United. Fraizer Campbell and David Meyler (both knee) are long-term injury concerns for the Black Cats.
Probable Starting XI (4-5-1): Mignolet; Onuoha, Bramble, Turner, Bardsley; Elmohamady, Cattermole, Malbranque, Henderson, Welbeck; Bent
A catastrophe is never far away
Newcastle United and speculation go hand in hand; only this week the club had to come out and flatly deny they were plotting against their manager Chris Hughton. His position seems safe for now, but a home defeat at the hands of Sunderland has seen off bigger characters – just ask Ruud Gullit.
Which seems odd, as Hughton has built a decent looking side on a shoestring at Newcastle. His team currently sit ninth in the table, only four points behind Champions League representatives Tottenham and one point behind Sunderland. It doesn’t take an A* in Maths to work out that a win over their rivals would see them leapfrog the Black Cats and give supporters a legitimate claim to being top dogs in the North East. Not much at stake then.
Swings and roundabouts
It’s a tired old cliche, but in the case of derbies form really does go out the window. Which is a shame for Sunderland, as they are unbeaten in seven league games and have kept a clean sheet in each of their last three Premier League matches.
It’s not all bad news for the Black Cats, as the last time they won a game at St James’ Park was back in November 2000 when none other than current chairman Niall Quinn got the winning goal in a 2-1 triumph over their rivals. In all, Sunderland have only won one of their last 10 games against Newcastle United and that was their first home victory against the Magpies in 28 years. Oh, and the Black Cats haven’t won an away game this season.
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