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The Roker Roundup: Monday 14th March 2016

What's gannin' on everyone?

Derby Ref Decided

Yorkshireman Martin Atkinson will take charge of this Sunday's derby clash at St James' Park, it has been announced.

Atkinson has previously taken charge of two derby games - both 1-1 draws - and has sent of one player in those fixtures, when Cheik Tiote was dismissed back in the draw at the Stadium of Light in 2012.

He's not the best, but I suppose he'll do.

Fans Urged To Use Free Buses

Northumbria Police have said that Sunderland fans travelling to Newcastle for Sunday's game are best served using the free bus service provided by the club.

Rather oddly, the train and metro service that fans can usually catch from the town centre is now departing from St Peters, which you'd imagine is in order to goad more supporters into using the regulated bus service that leaves from the Stadium of Light.

Northumbria Police Operations Commander, Chief Superintendent Steve Neill, said:

This is a fantastic occasion between our region's two biggest football clubs and we are proud to be a part of it. As with any major event in the north east there will be a number of things for fans to consider when deciding how to get to the game but make sure you plan your journey in advance.

We have worked closely with both football clubs and once again Sunderland AFC have subsidised a number of coaches to get their supporters as quickly and safely as possible. It says a lot that at the last derby game in Newcastle the supporters coaches arrived back at the Stadium of Light before the direct trains had even left Central Station.

We would urge fans to consider this as the best option and contact the club to get a bus pass to allow them to travel from the Stadium of Light prior to the match. However, those coaches not filled by fans at the stadium will then enter the city centre to pick up away fans from Station Street.

Everyone in this region understands the passion of fans of both clubs and our number one priority is that we can help to make following your team as safe and enjoyable as possible.

Full information on what services are available to fans can be found here - basically, if you are choosing to get the Metro through then just make sure you get to St Peters station in plenty of time.

U21s Remain Top - Just

Andy Welsh's U21s side remain top of the Barclays U21s Premier League, but only just.

Manchester United missed the chance to go top of the league after a frustrating draw on Friday night with Liverpool, but with the Red Devils still having two games in hand over Sunderland you'd expect they'll eventually return to the top of the league.

With a chance to create some room between themselves and their league rivals, Sunderland missed the chance to go three points clear on Saturday when they drew 1-1 away at Manchester City - this despite leading for most of the game, when Mikael Mandron continued his fine scoring form with a goal in the first half.

Sunderland don't play again until a week today, away at Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

Lens Is Back

Jeremain Lens has handed Sam Allardyce a welcome boost ahead of Sunday's derby game, with the Dutch international forward returning from a Hernia injury which has kept him out for a number of weeks.

Lens played a part in Friday's 3-0 friendly win over Livingston on Friday and is expected to return to the squad ahead of the match against Newcastle at the weekend.

Personally I feel this couldn't have came at a better time. We've been lacking a genuine attacking option off the bench in the last few games and Lens should provide that kind of choice when it comes to the relegation run-in.

Speaking of that game, you can view highlights of it on SAFC.com here - Fabio Borini's volley is worth going out of your way to watch.