PHIL Bardsley has warned Sunderland’s derby debutants that facing Newcastle will be an eye-opener, however experienced they are.
Bardsley faces his fourth outing in a red and white shirt against the Magpies on Saturday, but it will be a baptism of fire for Sunderland’s glut of summer signings.
The 26-year-old has been briefing ex-Manchester United team-mates Wes Brown and John O’Shea on what to expect and says even the vastly-experienced Champions League winners will be stunned by the noise inside the Stadium of Light.
Bardsley said: “The atmosphere in these games is always incredible. The roof just blows off and you think ‘Woah!’ I was telling Wes and Sheasy that it really is unbelievable.
“You can’t describe it really, when you’re on the pitch you can’t really concentrate and sometimes the game gets a bit scrappy.
“Everyone is there on the pitch to give 100 per cent but not every pass will go to a red and white shirt.
“There will be times when you give the ball away but what we need is all the fans and everyone around the place to get behind us. We need to have a real good go on Saturday.
“Derbies are similar, but if you go to Manchester, you don’t necessarily see loads of people with shirts on.
“But if I drive from my house to the training ground, I can see 10 or 15 people with Sunderland shirts on, it’s incredible.
“Up here is just a different kettle of fish, it’s just football crazy. To be part of it is a chance you just never forget.”
Bardsley is yet to savour success against Newcastle after two draws sandwiched by last season’s 5-1 drubbing at St James’s Park.
But the full-back believes Sunderland are in pole position to record their first derby victory since 2008, with Newcastle short on attacking options following the departures of Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll.
“It’s a good time to play them,” he said.
“They’ve lost some big players over the last nine months – Carroll, Nolan. They were seasoned pros, they were going to get them goals and look a threat.
“It’s up to their new lads to go and get them the goals and provide the threat.
“But we’re not too fussed about them and what they’re going to do - we just need to go there and give it our best shot.
“It was a tough one last season. We struggled twice against them but ended up finishing 10th and above them. But people look back and say ‘You didn’t beat Newcastle’.
“I agree with that in a way, it was something we should have done, but I wouldn’t have given away finishing above them. I think we do want to repay the fans a bit for that.”