The Irishman looks likely to be stand-in skipper for the clash with Newcastle this weekend and has praised both sets of fans for creating a buzzing atmosphere around the fixture.John O’Shea insists he is relishing the opportunity to captain Sunderland in his first home Tyne-Wear derby when the Black Cats take on Newcastlethis Sunday.
The former Manchester United man was sidelined for last season’s clash at the Stadium of Light but played a part in the 1-1 draw on Tyneside back in March. O'Shea is likely to skipper the Black Cats in place of the suspended Lee Cattermole, and hopes the game will live up to the hype.
“These are the big games you want to play in,” O'Shea told the club's official website. “I was involved last year at St. James’ Park, and it was an amazing game where we should really have held on. The atmosphere was fantastic and fingers crossed my first home derby will be special too.”
The encounter will be the 146th meeting between the two teams in all competitions, and O'Shea has praised the pre-match atmosphere in the North East.
“I’ve met fans around the place and they are buzzing for the game. You can see how passionate people are," he said. "I’ve played in a lot of derby games, and I wouldn’t say you ever get used to it, because they are all one-off matches. You really feel you have to give everything you’ve got.”
There are just two points between the two sides ahead of this weekend's game, although Sunderland has a game in hand. O’Shea feels that recent results will be insignificant going into the match, though, and remains focused on stopping Newcastle's attacking threat.
“Form, along with everything else, goes out the window. There’s two evenly matched teams," O'Shea said. “Hopefully we can come out with a win and go ahead of them with a game in hand, but we know they have some very dangerous players so we will have to be on our guard.”