There have been concerns that the game at St James' Park on Sunday, coupled with the recent appointment of the controversial Italian, could spark trouble amoungst supporters.
The police have warned against fans gesturing distastfully towards the new Black Cats' manager, but Di Canio insists he will only pay attention to the Sunderland faithful, heading into a vital clash for their Premier League survival and local bragging rights.
|DI CANIO ISSUES BATTLE CRY
|13/8||Sunderland are 13/8 with bet365 to be relegated
“When I was a footballer, especially away fans, they were an extra lift.
“Away from home, they would sing, ‘Paolo Di Canio’ and I wanted to score and celebrate. Now I am a manager I am only focused towards my players.”
Meanwhile, after criticising his players, claiming the former regime under Martin O'Neill has left them lacking in fitness, the former Swindon manager admits he can't make major alterations at this late stage in the season.
“We don’t want such a risk as at this stage of the season you can cause problems to the players," he added.
“So I can’t work in the way I would like to do. That is very difficult, you have to do it gradually.
“At this moment I have to make sure the few changes I make are the right ones.”