Sunderland winger James McClean will be in contention for a derby return against Newcastle on Sunday after shaking off a groin injury. The 23-year-old was ruled out of the Republic of Ireland’s 6-1 defeat by Germany with a groin problem, but manager Martin O’Neill has revealed he could have been available for Tuesday’s trip to the Faroe Islands if required. Full-back Phil Bardsley could also make the squad after returning to action for the Under-21s side following an ankle injury which has sidelined him since pre-season, but defender Titus Bramble is a doubt with a hip flexor problem and skipper Lee Cattermole completes his three-match ban.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew could welcome back key defenders Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor for the derby trip to Sunderland. The Argentine has missed the last seven games with a hamstring injury suffered on international duty, while Taylor damaged a calf in the 2-2 draw at Reading on September 29. Goalkeeper Tim Krul could also be back from an elbow injury he sustained while away with Holland last month, while full-back Danny Simpson (hamstring) might also make it after sitting out the 3-0 defeat by former club Manchester United last time out.
Martin O’Neill: “We should take our lead from (Newcastle) in that sense (of aiming for European football). It was an exceptional season. This time last year, I wasn’t working, so I was looking at it from afar, and perhaps when the results were coming in each weekend and Newcastle were still going strongly, I maybe felt, like a lot of people, they would do well to keep it going. But they did, they kept it going. Of course, they had a few hiccups along the way, but fought back again, won big games when they weren’t playing well - and that’s always a sign of a half-decent side."
Alan Pardew: "(Mike Ashley) is the best chairman I have had in terms of letting me work. He hardly ever bothers me and if he does, it's about a decision involving the budget, questions like, 'Was that a good move?' or 'Could we have paid less?'. But outside of the team, very rarely will he stop me and say, 'Why did you sub him at that time?' or 'What's the story with him? Why isn't he playing?'. He trusts me and knows I am being fair. I am trying to get the best out of the team."
Sunderland have earned four red cards in the last four Premier League meetings with Newcastle and there have been 25 yellows shared between the teams in those matches.
There has been a 90th minute goal scored in three of the last four league meetings between these north east rivals.
Shola Ameobi has scored seven Premier League goals against Sunderland, by far his favourite opponent.
Ameobi has netted those seven goals in his last seven appearances against the Black Cats, while Sunderland have only netted eight among the whole team in those games.
Newcastle have conceded the joint-most headed goals in the Premier League this season (4).
Sunderland have fired in fewer shots on target than any other team in the top flight this season (11).
Of Sunderland’s 11 shots on target, only one has been a header and none has been an attempt with a right-footed shot.
Newcastle have scored a divisional-high 88% of their goals in the second half of league games this season.
Since the start of 2009-10, Cheik Tiote has been booked 27 times in 54 Premier League appearances. He has the worst disciplinary record in that period ahead of 2nd-placed Lee Cattermole with 18 yellows and three red cards.
In the 13 games these two sides have played between them in the Premier League this season, just three players have been on the scoresheet, Fletcher 5, Ba 6 and Ben Arfa 2.
Sunderland 13/8, Newcastle 13/10, Draw 2/1