NEWCASTLE United captain Kevin Nolan has hailed the job Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has done at the Stadium of Light ahead of the Wear-Tyne derby this weekend.
And the midfielder insists the Black Cats should be looking at getting into Europe this season.
Nolan has more reason than most to be looking forward to this Sunday's big game, having written his name into derby folklore back in October with a hat-trick in the 5-1 thrashing of Sunderland at St James's Park.
Since then, however, Sunderland have bounced back superbly and their run of form has pushed them up to sixth in the table, just two points behind Premier League champions Chelsea.
He said: "I joined this club before the derby two seasons ago and made my debut in it.
"At that time, it was almost as if the clubs were dragging each other down, so it is nice to be going into one with both teams going well in the Premier League.
"That is what we want. No matter what, we want healthy competition in our region and the fact is that Sunderland have a fantastic chance (of Europe).
"Steve Bruce has done a great job there.".
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