Steve Harper doesn’t see Sunderland under pressure

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STEVE Harper doesn’t expect Sunderland to be feeling extra heat going into a red-hot derby clash at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats were on the receiving end of a 5-1 drubbing at St James’s Park in the reverse fixture.

But while Harper knows the Wearsiders will be looking to bounce back, he doesn’t think the hosts will be cowed by a sense of foreboding tomorrow.

“I don’t think you can put any more pressure on a derby game,” he said.

“The defeat at our place just gives them an extra incentive to try to overturn what was a bad result for them, which I’m sure they will try to do.

“But it’s our aim to stop them. We’ve been looking at their strengths and weaknesses over the past few days and had another couple of good days training, so we go there full of confidence.”

Confidence may also be high on Wearside after Steve Bruce’s men kicked on from their derby-day woe to put together a good set of results.

But Harper believes Newcastle can end the Cats’ run.

“Steve (Bruce) has done an excellent job there,” he said. “The result at our place in the derby seems to have really galvanised them.

“It often happens after a result like that. You can go one way or the other, but they have picked themselves up and kicked on from there.

“Hopefully we can go and dampen their form. West Ham came to St James’s Park on the back of a good run of form and we ended that and hopefully we can end Sunderland’s too.”

Harper has been pleased with Newcastle’s form under new boss Alan Pardew, and admits the former Hammers manager had introduced something different to the mix.

He said: “We have had three wins in the league, and it’s been good.

“The manager has been quite impressive.

“He’s got round the lads and some of the things he’s done on the training ground have gone well.

“There’s been some new sessions I’ve not seen before in my 300 years here!

“There have been very specific training sessions. He’s made a lot of good points and there’s things we’ve started working on and already we’ve started to see the rewards. Hopefully, that will continue.”

United’s plan of action worked to perfection last time out and while Harper thinks the approach may change tomorrow, he hopes the result is the same.

“I wasn’t around the team for the last derby. I was on the treatment table so I don’t know what the gameplan was that day,” he added.

“Whatever it was, it worked.

“We need to get off to a good start and if we can do that it should hopefully set us up for a good result.”