MIKE Williamson is determined to ease the pain of Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini’s absence at the Stadium of Light.
Coloccini is out of Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby with a groin problem.
It is feared the influential defender faces a lengthy spells on the sidelines.
Williamson will be partnered in the heart of Alan Pardew’s defence by either fit-again Steven Taylor or 22-year-old Paul Dummett, who scored in last weekend’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool.
And the experienced 29-year-old – who started the season out in the cold at Newcastle – is ready for the white hot passion of what will be his sixth derby appearance.
“I’ve always maintained it’s a fantastic honour every time I get the chance to put the shirt on,” Williamson said.
“That’s still the same. Every time I come in, I just try to do my best.
“I try and organise and limit the opposition, and get as many clean sheets and wins on the board as possible. It’s working out well so far.”
The key for Williamson and his team-mates is staying focused in the days up to the game, which is easier said than done given the intense build-up on Tyneside.
“It’s hard to get away from the passion – it’s everywhere,” said Williamson, whose first Sunderland game was the 5-1 demolition derby at St James’s Park three years ago.
“It’s all about keeping focused before it. Hopefully, you can relax and enjoy the day’s work after the game.
“It’s a game you always look forward to because of the atmosphere, the rivalry and the passion.
“I’ve never heard anything like it. It’s a fantastic game to be involved in.
“I’ve got good memories of derbies. There are some fantastic memories for myself, and I’ll look back on them at the end of my career.”
“I’m looking forward to it. If we perform like we did against Liverpool, we’ve got a great chance of getting something from the game.”
Meanwhile, teenage Newcastle striker Adam Armstrong scored twice for England’s Under-17s in their 4-0 win over Armenia in Yerevan yesterday.
Armstrong and his team-mates face Gibraltar tomorrow and the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday as they attempt to reach the next round of qualifying ahead of the European Championships next May.