Sunderland Team News
Martin O'Neill is confident that Danny Rose will be in a sufficient frame of mind to play on Sunday after suffering racial abuse whilst on international duty in midweek.
Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson both returned from their respective international camps unscathed, whilst James McClean looks set to shake off the groin injury that prevented him from linking up with the Republic of Ireland.
However, Titus Bramble is being assessed ahead of the game. A hip injury could rule the former Newcastle man out - cementing Carlos Cuellar's position at the heart of defence. Phil Bardsley's comeback is being mooted having trained for the past week, but it may come too soon for the right-back.
Newcastle Team News
Defensive trio Tim Krul, Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini have all returned to training ahead of Sunday's game. It remains to be seen whether all will go straight back in, but Alan Pardew will be mindful of the inability to defend set-pieces in his side's last Premier League outing against Manchester United.
Elsewhere, Danny Simpson could also be in line for a recall and Shola Ameobi's record in this fixture could merit inclusion ahead of Papiss Cisse.
Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar, O'Shea, Rose; Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher
Newcastle: Krul; Simpson, Taylor, Williamson, Santon; Ben Arfa, Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez; Ba, Cisse
Key Matchup: Stephane Sessegnon Vs Cheik Tiote
Sessegnon needs to hit form, and hit for sharpish as without wanting to put on too much criticism he's been far from his best. The good thing is there were flickers of a return to form against Manchester City for a brief spell, and after making all the right noises this week in the press it's time to show it on the pitch. On his day, he's a real difference maker.
With him dropping deap though he'll be up against old nemesis Cheik Tiote - a man unafraid of the more physical side we'll say - as well as also being the protagonist for Sess' sending off at the Sports Direct Arena last season.
Here's hoping that Sessegnon only beats him into next week with skill this weekend, or lands some other type of knockout blow. Other puns are available, make your own up.
Recent Form: WLDWL
Win: Newcastle United 1-0 Norwich City (Ba 19)
Loss: Manchester United 2-1 Newcastle United (Anderson 44, Cleverley 58; Cisse 62)
Draw: Reading 2-2 Newcastle United (Kebe 58, Hunt 62; Ba 58, 83)
Win: Newcastle United 3-0 Bordeaux (Ameobi 16, Henrique (og) 40, Cisse 49)
Loss: Newcastle United 0-3 Manchester United (Evans 8, Evra 15, Cleverley 71)
Last Time Around: Newcastle United 1-1 Sunderland, 04/03/12
A spectacular game at the Sports Direct Arena last season was action from the first minute. After a few feisty challenges it was Nicklas Bendtner who opened the scoring from the penalty spot.
Sunderland held on well for the vast majority of the game, but Stephane Sessegnon's sending off for a slightest of touches on Cheik Tiote. It was an uphil battle from then on, and although Simon Mignolet was nearly the hero after saving a late penalty, you-know-bloody-who was able to tap in a last gasp equaliser for them lot, nicking an undeserved point.
The Ref: Martin Atkinson
Sunday's game will be the second time that Atkinson has officiated a Sunderland game this season - the first being the 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool.
The West Yorkshireman took charge in four Sunderland games last season including the 2-0 win over Peterborough in the FA Cup, and away defeats to Fulham and Blackburn Rovers in the league. He was the man who sent off Robert Huth for his challenge on David Meyler at the Britannia Stadium in February.
What The Managers Said
I have been involved in quite a number of derby games, hardly that many bigger than the Glasgow ones between Celtic and Rangers, but for intensity, this is up there with any of them.
I like the intensity of the games, as long as it doesn't go overboard, that's an important aspect to derby matches.
I cast my mind back to the game at St James' Park last season and for the first 20 minutes it was nearly all us. But I have to say it's a different day, different time, different everything.
The stadium will be full for Sunday's match and that should evoke a really good atmosphere. Obviously I'm looking forward to it.
The derby games are electric games. I can't wait for it. The games over there have so much electricity. I can't really explain to people. I tried to explain it to someone in London the other day - It's not like a London derby.
I don't know, why. Maybe because it's a city that has intense rivalry with another bordering city. They're almost on top of each other.
I'm looking forward to it - it's a great occasion. I think Sunderland are stronger this year and both of us are coming off heavy defeats which will make it a tough, tense affair.
Roker Report Predicts
Neither side is yet to hit full stride in the league, and are reliant on one man for goals at present. In that sense, this game is perfectly placed as a potential catalyst for either team's fulfilment of promise. The centre of midfield has been a problem for Sunderland in Cattermole's absence and it is an area where Newcastle are arguably at their strongest. Despite that, and Newcastle's comfort in this fixture over the years we are bound, by duty, to plump for a 2-1 home win.