NEWCASTLE United captain Kevin Nolan has hailed the job Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has done at the Stadium of Light.
And the midfielder insists the Black Cats should be looking at getting into Europe this season.
Nolan, inset, has more reason than most to be looking forward to Sunday’s big game, having scored a hat-trick in the 5-1 derby win 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.
Newcastle are hanging on to their coat tails in eighth, and Nolan insists the fact that both sides are doing well is a refreshing change from previous campaigns.
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.
“I know he has had a lot of money to spend, but he still has to produce the results, and I think they have done really well. Hats off to them.
“Hopefully, if we get the money, we can spend like they have done and then start pushing them because they have really got to be looking at Europe, while we are a team that has just come up and cannot allow ourselves to get carried away about what we have done this year.
“We’re eighth, and they’re sixth. It’s great for the region, and really sets up the derby.
“We have got to be so happy the way we have come into the Premier League.
“The derby is going to be a classic,” added Nolan. “Obviously, they are a wounded animal after what happened at St James’s the last time we met, but it is up to us to go there and make sure we put in another professional performance.
“Hopefully if we do that, our strategy goes according to plan.”
H Young Newcastle United defender Tamas Kadar has joined Huddersfield Town on a month’s loan deal.
The left-sided centre-half links up with former Magpies midfielder Lee Clark, who is trying to mastermind the Terriers’ promotion from League One.
Kadar has made 18 appearances for Newcastle since signing from Hungarian outfit Zalaegerszegi TE in January, 2008, and has shown plenty of promise.