PASSIONATE Sunderland fan Mark Tinkler will be looking to give the club he has supported all of his life the chance to concentrate on the league at the weekend.
He may be red and white through and through, but Tinkler is currently plotting Mick McCarthy's boys exit from the FA Cup with the two sides clashing in the third round encounter at the Stadium of Light.
And although he would be cheering the Black Cats on under any other circumstances, he would like nothing more than to see them crash out of the competition on Saturday.
He said: "It will mean a lot to me. I have supported Sunderland all my life and I will go there as a player rather than a fan and play in front of a lot of my mates, who will be there watching.
"Mind, they will still be wearing red and white shirts, they're not going to switch just because I am playing against them."
Tinkler is delighted Hartlepool United will be making the short journey to Wearside on the back of a 2-0 dominating victory over Oldham on Sunday and feels it was just the tonic they needed ahead of their big date at Sunderland.
Eifion Williams opened the scoring in first half injury time before Aussie international Joel Porter came off the bench to grab a second 11 minutes from time. Pool also saw Chris Westwood's header cleared off the line and a second from Williams disallowed by the linesman's flag in a rampant display in Lancashire.
Tinkler said: "It is a big game on Saturday and the lads are all really looking forward to it. We will go there off the back of a great away performance and confidence will be high.
"Sunderland are doing well at the moment but the FA Cup can throw anything up."
Tinkler was happy to end the year on a high note and labelled the win over Oldham their best display this season away from home.
He said: "It was a good start and the lads all played really well. We worked our socks off like we normally do. We put them under pressure and when we got the ball we passed it around well.
"We had some good chances in the first half and thankfully Eifion put one of them away before half-time. A couple of us had decent chances which could have gone in.
"It was an excellent result for us away from home as Oldham have had a couple of good results lately.
"Our away performances have not been the greatest this season and that was definitely the best one so far. Now we have to build on that and give it our best at Sunderland."