Newcastle United host Sunderland at St. James’ Park at lunchtime on Sunday in a game that will be the biggest Tyne-Wear derby for both sides in years.
The second-bottom Magpies, now under the management of Rafael Benitez, lie a point adrift of their rivals in 17th – they lost their fourth game in a row against Leicester City on Monday night.
Having won just two of their last 10 outings, the former Real Madrid boss needs to turn things around quickly if he is to save them from the drop.
With third-bottom Norwich City playing on Saturday, the Black Cats could be alongside their foes in the relegation zone by the time they lock horns.
Now managed by ex-Magpie Sam Allardyce, the Wearside outfit have won their last six games against Newcastle – their most recent being a 3-0 triumph earlier this season.
Striker Fabio Borini has caused a storm in the media prior to the game, claiming that the Tynesiders ‘copied’ them by changing bosses just before a derby.
Newcastle have 12 injury concerns ahead of kick-off – of those, only Papiss Cisse (Groin) and Kevin Mbabu (Ankle) have realistic hopes of being available.
Sunderland are also sweating on the fitness of numerous first-team players – new signing Emmanuel Eboue could take part, while midfielder Wahbi Kazri is rated 75% likely to return.
Lee Cattermole might not take part because of concussion, while Jermain Lens is struggling with an inguinal hernia.
League Positions: Newcastle United – 19th (24 pts); Sunderland – 17th (25 pts)
Form: Newcastle United – LWLLLL; Sunderland – LDWLDD
Previous Meeting: Sunderland 3-0 Newcastle United – October 24, 2015; Premier League
Key Players: Newcastle United – Georginio Wijnaldum; Sunderland – Jermain Defoe
Shoot Says: Newcastle United 1-1 Sunderland