GUS POYET expects both line-ups in the Tyne-Wear derby to be free from left-field selections this weekend.
The Sunderland boss has Emanuele Giaccherini back at his disposal for tomorrow’s trip to St James’s Park, with the Italian international likely to be on the bench after three months on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
However, the game has come too soon for full-back Billy Jones, with Poyet’s main selection dilemma likely to revolve around whether to keep faith in Jozy Altidore up front or hand a start to either Steven Fletcher or Ricky Alvarez.
Opposite number Alan Pardew is likely to have Steven Taylor and Papiss Demba Cisse available, while Cheik Tiote and Sammy Ameobi are due to return to training today.
But Poyet doesn’t envisage many surprises in either starting XI, as Sunderland attempt to record a club record fourth successive league win over the Magpies.
“I’m not expecting Newcastle to change,” said Poyet.
“There might be one or two players who have a couple of knocks.
“But with everybody fit, you know (Daryl) Janmaat is going to play and (Fabricio) Coloccini.
“There are not going to be massive changes.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any surprises and if there is, you have to adapt.
“From our point of view, we are not ready to go and change systems and do something unique either.
“In these kind of games, there’s not going to be any surprises.”
Sunderland’s five-game unbeaten run against Newcastle, coupled with the Magpies’ heavy defeat in the League Cup quarter-final in midweek, has put Pardew under scrutiny once more, despite overseeing six wins from their last nine Premier League outings.
But Poyet doesn’t subscribe to the theory that there is more pressure on Newcastle than Sunderland tomorrow.
“I don’t even think about that,” he added.
“Two weeks ago, they were flying and winning games for fun.
“It was probably one of the most difficult places to go, especially after beating Chelsea.
“I don’t think that’s changed because of a couple of results.”
H Follow our matchday blog. Log on to the Echo’s live, interactive Tyne-Wear derby blog tomorrow and follow the action as Sunderland take on Newcastle at St James’s Park. Go to sunderlandecho.com from noon for the build-up.