EARLIER today, our Newcastle United writer Miles Starforth and Sunderland writer Chris Young took part in a webchat ahead of Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby.
It promises to be a crunch fixture at the Stadium of Light, with Sunderland looking for points to move them away from the relegation zone and Newcastle attempting to avoid an unprecedented fifth derby loss in a row.
Below is a selection of the best questions which were put to Miles in this morning’s webchat, along with his responses.
Michael Bowers, via Twitter @MichaelBowers15, asked: “Miles, would Newcastle be happier with a draw in this game than Sunderland? I also think it’ll be 1-1 draw, Defoe and Cabella.”
Miles answered: “I think it’s a game NUFC must not lose, so in that sense, a draw wouldn’t be a disaster. A fifth successive defeat is unthinkable.
“In hindsight, Alan Pardew should have taken the draw at St James’s Park in December, and not chased a winner so late on and left his team vulnerable at the back.”
Miles was also asked whether a victory in Sunday’s game would help John Carver win over the Newcastle fans and land the head coach job full-time.
Our reporter said: “I think John Carver needs a lot more than a derby victory to win over the majority of the fans, and he knows this.
“However, it would be a start. As for the job itself, a win wouldn’t do him any harm, though NUFC hierarchy will base decision on many factors.”
On Twitter, @DareToAyoze asked if Rolando Aarons would feature in the game for Newcastle.
Miles responded: “I‘d be very surprised if Rolando Aarons makes the bench.
“Don’t forget, he’s been out for five months and only returned to training this week.
“Think John Carver will err on the side of caution, though he could use Aarons’ pace.”
Many asked who would line up in midfield for Newcastle.
Miles said: “For me, Mehdi Abeid has to start if he’s fit enough, but that’s a big ‘if’ given he’s only just returned to training after missing the last two games.
“If not, I’d go for Jonas Gutierrez. He knows what these derbies are all about. This isn’t a game for Vurnon Anita.”
Several people asked Miles what he made of the 4pm kick-off time on Easter Sunday, and he said: “Derbies elsewhere are played later in the day, but they aren’t as potentially combustible as this one.
“The Easter holiday is another factor. Just hope we’re talking about events on the pitch after the match.”
When pressed on a prediction, Miles said: “I’ll go for 1-1 with a goal from Ayoze Perez. NUFC’s squad has been decimated by injuries/suspensions.
“Not ideal, and SAFC will look to test a patched up defence. Can’t see either team keeping a clean sheet.”
To read the full transcript from the live Q&A with Miles Starforth, click here.