NEWCASTLE United manager Alan Pardew has told his players to forget about the derby until after the final whistle at White Hart Lane – and leave everything on the field.
The Magpies take on Tottenham tonight with a place in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup at stake.
The quarter-final is followed by Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland at St James’s Park.
But Pardew knows his players – who have beaten Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Gillingham so far in the cup – can’t be distracted by the fixture, despite its importance.
The club, which last won a trophy in 1969, hasn’t gone beyond the quarter-finals of a cup competition under Pardew.
And Pardew will tell his players to “grasp” the opportunity in front of them in the dressing room before the game.
“We have done well to get ourselves into this position,” said Pardew.
“We have done well in the league, so that sets up that game (the derby) up nicely. We had two fantastic results in the cup, beating two Premier League sides, just to get to where we are.
“We are now going to try and take this opportunity.
“It’s about grasping it. I have played in quarter-finals before, and there’s just extra meaning to it.
“You just sense it. You are close. You are eight teams away.”
Pardew says his players are genuinely excited by this week’s games.
“I can feel the squad bubbling under in terms of the excitement and looking forward to the two games,” he added.
“Look, the derby is a Premier League game and an important one – we’re all aware of that. It carries more significance in this area, and maybe in the football world because of the fixture’s history.
“But, you know, a quarter-final of the League Cup doesn’t come around too often for this club – and for Spurs, by the way.
“So both clubs know it’s an important game.”
Pardew will be without suspended defender Daryl Janmaat.
He said: “We are going to miss Daryl, which is a shame, but we’ll have a strong team to take there.”
* Follow the best derby build-up in the Echo all this week.