Newcastle United are relishing the battle – Mike Williamson

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NEWCASTLE United defender Mike Williamson insists the Magpies will be up for the fight when Sunderland come to town on Sunday.

The centre-half knows that the Magpies will have a battle on their hands in the 146th Tyne and Wear derby, and says no one will be backing down from the challenge.

“These games are huge,” he said. “In terms of the lads looking forward to it, we’ll be relishing the battle.”

Since arriving on Tyneside, the former Portsmouth man has a 100 per cent derby record – he started the 5-1 thrashing of the Black Cats in October, 2010, and came off the bench at the Stadium of Light as Newcastle beat the Wearsiders 1-0 earlier this season.

Williamson says there is no secret to those successes, insisting that hard work was the vital ingredient which secured victory.

He said: “The 5-1 was one of those days where the lads came together on the day.

“I think the main thing, for me, is that the lads out-battled them.

“I think that is what turned the game for us. We wanted it that bit more than they did. From the first minute we were right on it.”

Williamson believes that derby days are something to relish, and says the memory of the 5-1 win will stay with him.

“It was a phenomenal game in itself,” he said. “The occasion and the scoreline were incredible, but it was a great game to be a part of for myself.

“I just remember making sure I took everything in. I remember waking up in the morning, and having that knot in my stomach. It was that nervousness that you get because it is the first time you’ve gone through it.

“I just wanted to absorb it all and it turned out to be one of the best days of my career in the end.”

Williamson is expecting a far tougher game on Sunday, against a Sunderland side rejuvenated under Martin O’Neill.

“We know this one is going to be an entirely different prospect,” he said. “Their new manager has come in and made a big difference. Results there have been phenomenal.”