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Tees-Wear derby has 66% chance of being switched; Big Sam rewrites history & Today's other talking points

In this morning's news roundup: Our ticket allocation for next month's Tees-Wear derby has been announced, but there's a big chance the date will be switched; Big Sam appears to have rewriten his history at the Stadium of Light and gone a bit 'Moyesey'; 'Proof' TV viewers don't like watching Sunderland & Where's Catts?

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The Tees-Wear derby, how many fans will Sunderland take?

2,926 Sunderland fans will be at the Riverside for the Tees-Wear derby scheduled to take place three weeks on Saturday - that's how many tickets Middlesbrough have allocated for away fans. But there's a very real possibility the game will not be played on the 11th March as planned.

General Views of UK Sporting Venues Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

In fact, there's a 66% chance the match will be switched. That's because should Middlesbrough beat Oxford United on Saturday in the FA Cup, the derby will be rearranged to make way for a cup quarter-final appearance for the Teessiders.

And 'Boro are odds of 1 / 2 to beat their League One opposition this weekend - that's a decent 66% probability of progressing in the FA Cup according to the bookmakers.

No date has been set for the fixture should it be changed and the Premier League are unlikely to announce a rearranged slot until the Fifth Round - and any replays - have been played and settled.

The match will be the first Tees-Wear Premier League derby for seven years. The last time Sunderland travelled to Teesside for a league fixture, the game ended 1-1. Kenwyne Jones snatched an 82nd-minute equaliser that day as Ricky Sbragia's men left it late to salvage a point.

Middlesbrough v Sunderland - Premier League
Kenwyne Jones celebrates his equaliser in the last Tees-Wear league meeting, Jauary 2009
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

That season Middlesbrough - and Newcastle - would later be relegated as Sunderland avoided the drop by a mere two points. And this season the game is sure to be just as significant with both North East clubs scrapping for their Premier League lives.

Sam Allardyce - I didn't expect my Sunderland signings to be very good

Sam Allardyce has been on the front foot this week trying to gloss over six defeats in his first eight games in charge at Crystal Palace and asking Eagles fans to believe in him based on his achievements at Sunderland last season.

Stoke City v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

The new-ish boss at Selhurst Park has been pointing to his successful job keeping Sunderland in the Premier League and offering it as an indicator he can do the same at Palace.

And, Big Sam has laid down the gauntlet to his January signings at Crystal Palace and told them that they need to have the same impact as those he signed for Sunderland twelve months ago.

Whatever your thoughts on last season's barnstorming survival run-in, no one can deny there were elements of luck involved in the escape from the drop. Luring three players from abroad - for largely modest fees - who were able to transform Big Sam's Sunderland side was no mean feat.

But even the man who signed them has admitted he didn't expect Kone, Khazri and Kirchhoff to be as good as they were. In words eerily echoing those that David Moyes recently uttered about not anticipating anyone that Sunderland signed in the January window being much good, Allardyce said of his business last season:

The new players slotted in and gave performances far greater than I expected, which was the basis for how we stayed up.

Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland - Premier League
Big Sam brings on one of his January signings - Jan Kirchhoff - in the game versus Tottenham
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Allardyce has also claimed he had identified the trio before the transfer window opened last year and - in a strange rewriting of history - claimed that he started his stint at the Stadium of Light a month later than he did:

I think that we started to turn it around quicker [at Sunderland] than we have here, but I was there a bit longer.

I went in there in November and by December we had hit our targets and got our players.

Note to Big Sam: you joined Sunderland on the 9th October 2015.

Televisual appeal - no one likes us....or Stoke

According to The Sun, Sunderland and Stoke City have had the most fixtures played at the 3pm Saturday slot this season. Both clubs have featured 16 times at the traditional footballing kick-off time - more than any other top-flight side.

Sunderland v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Matthew Ashton/Getty Images

Only 43% of Premier League fixtures have kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday this season and naturally Chelsea and Manchester United have played the fewest at that time - just four occasions each.

Evidence perhaps that from a televisual-desirability view-point, no one wants to watch us; and with some dire Sunderland showings this season that is perhaps understandable. As for Stoke - even with them sitting 9th in the table - proof that Mark Hughes side still lack any appeal whatsoever.

Where's Catts?

Sunderland look to be having a lovely time in New York. They've done some cycling, some running, some sight-seeing and even bumped into Frank Lampard. But, there really is one question which needs answering - where is Lee Cattermole?

The midfielder has missed four-and-a-half months of this season with a hip injury. In fact he's only played in two games - against Tottenham and Crystal Palace. This is what he looked like last time he was seen:

Sunderland v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Lee Cattermole looks disgusted as Crystal Palace score their first goal on their way to staging an unlikely come-back, overcoming a two goal deficit to beat us 3-2
Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Should we read anything into his apparent absence from the mid-season trip to the Big Apple? Direct your conspiracy theories to this eagle-eyed Catts fan.

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