Newcastle’s Geordies must keep cool against Sunderland

Steven Taylor
Steven Taylor

ALAN Pardew will ask Newcastle United’s Geordies to keep their cool in the white heat of tomorrow’s Tyne-Wear derby.

Pardew could name as many as five Tynesiders in his starting XI against Sunderland.

Steven Taylor, Jack Colback, Sammy Ameobi, Paul Dummett and Jack Alnwick are all vying for starts.

Teenage forward Adam Armstrong is also likely to be on the bench.

The club has only ever had four Geordies in a starting XI against Sunderland in the Premier League era.

“It’s a nice fact for us that it’s a possibility,” said Pardew.

“It goes to show our policy of trying to get players from within to come through is working.”

Pardew, however, doesn’t think that such a strong local influence in his team is necessarily an advantage on the field.

And the 53-year-old – who has presided over three successive defeats to Sunderland – will speak to the club’s Geordie players, and especially derby veteran Taylor, to remind them to keep their emotions in check.

“If I’m honest, I don’t think it’s a factor in the game,” said Pardew.

“But I will be looking at one or two who maybe get emotionally involved.

“Probably the one who worries me the most is Steven Taylor.

“He wears his heart on his sleeve, and he plays like that sometimes in this fixture.

“I’ve spoken to him about it.

“I think this time around he will be a lot calmer, and if he plays he will be in better shape.”

Pardew is also hopeful the likes of Ayoze Perez – who has never played against Sunderland – won’t be overawed by the passion and intensity of the fixture.

“This is an occasion, like any big derby, where some players don’t grasp the intensity, where some players freeze or are overawed by the size of the fixture,” said Pardew.

“I’ll be watching out for that, particularly with one or two of our players – Perez, a Spanish guy who has not really seen a game of this magnitude yet, although he played against Chelsea and did well.

“You’re kind of looking out for certain thing.

“But it’s a great occasion, and the best players respond. I think most of our players are looking forward to it in the best possible way.”

Sunderland beat Newcastle 3-0 at St James’s Park last season, with Colback among the scorers.

That result intensified the pressure on Pardew, who knows another derby defeat is unthinkable in the eyes of fans.

Asked if that was the low point of his tenure at United, Pardew said: “I don’t know.

“This is the most emotive game. I just think this time round, when I look back on the preparations to the last two games, we are much better set for this game.

“The spirit in the group, and the quality and intensity of the group, are very important in this game.

“That’s what wins you the games.”