Newcastle United fan Howard can’t wait to get stuck into Sunderland

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STEVE Howard will enjoy his second home debut for Hartlepool United tonight – against the team he just loves to hate.

The big Geordie makes no secret of his passion for hometown club Newcastle United.

And with that loyalty comes the rivalry with Sunderland, the visitors to Victoria Park this evening (7.30pm).

The prospect of the fixture has captured Howard’s imagination ever since he signed his contract earlier this month.

He said: “I’m buzzing that this is my first game back.

“I didn’t realise until I signed, but since then I’ve been looking forward to it for obvious reasons.

“I’ve played against them a few times and loved it every time. It has all the makings of a good night and I know they’ll be bringing a fair few fans down with them.

“I hope our fans turn out as well because it should make for a cracking atmosphere.

“I, for one, won’t be treating it as a summer kickabout, definitely not, I don’t think any player will – I just can’t wait for it now.”

Howard, when asked if his return to the North East meant a renewal of his Sports Direct Arena season ticket, said: “Without a doubt I’ll be there when I get the chance,” he said, when asked if his return home meant a renewal of his season ticket.

“I’m a massive fan and all of my mates are Newcastle fans – it’s in the blood in my family.

“So, with them being in the Europa League, it might give me a chance to get to a few games on a Thursday or a Sunday.”