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Newcastle manager Eddie Howe says he “hopes” Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie at Sunderland will be a season-changing game for his side.
It is the first Tyne-Wear derby (12:45 GMT) since a 1-1 Premier League draw at St James’ Park in March 2016.
The Magpies have won just one of their past eight matches and have dropped to ninth in the Premier League.
Championship side Sunderland have doubts over striker Patrick Roberts for the game at the Stadium of Light.
“That’s how we have to look at it,” Howe said when asked if it could be a season-changing game.
It is Howe’s first taste of the Tyne-Wear rivalry and arrives at a time when pressure is building because of their league form and recent exits from the Champions League and Carabao Cup.
“When the draw was made, I gave the Geordies [in the squad] an opportunity to speak about the fixture, just to set the scene,” Howe said.
“The players know everything they need to know about the fixture. They know what it means.
“We’ve trained well. We know the importance of the fixture and what it means to everybody. Hope we can give the best account of ourselves.”
Defender Kieran Trippier missed Monday’s defeat against Liverpool with a groin issue but could feature if he comes through a fitness test, while striker Callum Wilson is still nursing a calf injury and will miss the next two games.
Newcastle have exited the FA Cup at this stage in each of the past two seasons, with losses against Cambridge United and Sheffield Wednesday.
“I’m well aware of my record here… the two games we’ve had have been disappointing,” Howe said.
“I won’t shy away from that and we’ll try make up for it in this game.”
Sunderland head into the tie unbeaten in three games – winning two and drawing one to climb to sixth in the Championship.
Boss Michael Beale, appointed on 18 December after Tony Mowbray was sacked, is no stranger to a high-profile derby. He was Rangers manager on six occasions for Old Firm games against Celtic.
“It’s a fixture that captivates everyone in the north-east but also across the country. We love our derbies in English football,” Beale said.
“We need to be at our very best, there’s obviously a difference between the two clubs at the moment.
“It’s intriguing to put our young Championship squad up against a Champions League squad.”
Sunderland have faced criticism in the build-up to the game after the Black Cats Bar, to be used by away fans inside the stadium on Saturday, was redecorated with Newcastle slogans.