ANTON Ferdinand insists Sunderland’s summer signings will be well briefed at the significance of facing Newcastle United.
Four players made their Sunderland debuts in the opening day draw at Liverpool with another three – Connor Wickham, Keiren Westwood and Craig Gardner – unused substitutes at Anfield.
While it was a tough baptism of fire for Sunderland’s fresh faces, the maiden home game of the season promises to be even more of an eye-opener against a Newcastle outfit similarly blooding their summer recruits.
But Ferdinand, who made his derby bow in Sunderland’s last victory over the Magpies in 2008, believes Steve Bruce’s new boys have the experience to cope with the occasion and they will swiftly discover the magnitude of the occasion on the streets of Wearside.
Ferdinand told the Echo: “The people around the training ground will let the new signings know what it means and they’ll hear about it when they’re out and about the city, too.
“We’ve got a lot of good players with experience so it won’t be a shock to them.
“It’s some home game to start off with. They don’t come bigger and better than this and we need some big game players on Saturday.
“We can’t think we lost 5-1 at their place last year. That’s gone, we’ve got to move onto the next one. I’m sure as long as we win the game, our punters will be happy.
“My first one was the 2-1 win at home which was an enjoyable experience. I enjoy the big games and there’s no bigger one than Saturday.
“You want to go into the derby with a good performance under your belt and we’ve done that with the draw at Liverpool. We can get a good week of preparations under ours belt now.”
Centre-half Ferdinand was one of the stand-out performers in the 1-1 draw at Anfield after starting alongside summer signing Wes Brown.
With Titus Bramble and Michael Turner looking rusty during pre-season after last year’s injury problems, Ferdinand was given the opportunity to stake his claim after lining up alongside Brown in the friendly outings at Kilmarnock, Hartlepool and Hibernian.
The 26-year-old has thanked Black Cats boss Bruce for the chance and hopes he can do enough to keep his place in the side.
“I just have to thank the gaffer for sticking with me and Wes,” added Ferdinand. “We played a few times together in pre-season and looked good together.
“It was always going to be a case of Wes and someone else. I’m just happy that the gaffer chose me.
“My job is to try to keep the shirt. There’s a lot of centre-backs at the club, but as long as I play well, then I hope I won’t be taken out. I’ve felt good during pre-season and it was nice to play with such a good player as Wes, someone I can learn from and someone whose played in massive games.
“He’s very cool on the ball and that’s due to being at Man United.”