JACK COLBACK insists there will be a part of Tyneside rooting for Sunderland when he makes his full derby debut.
Killingworth-born Colback switched his allegiances to red and white after joining the Sunderland academy aged 11, with his family subsequently backing the Black Cats.
The 21-year-old will be the only home-grown player in the Sunderland line-up for Saturday’s noon clash with Newcastle United after his only previous appearance against the Magpies was as a late substitute in last season’s Stadium of Light draw.
While Colback is under no illusions about the significance of the early-season clash with Alan Pardew’s side, he believes Steve Bruce will ensure his team-mates are similarly aware of the magnitude of the opening home game of the campaign.
“My mam and dad weren’t really that strong fans anyway – my mam’s a Man U supporter, which says it all!” said Colback, who celebrated wildly after grabbing the winner for Sunderland’s second string against Newcastle three years ago.
“I’ve been here for a good 10 or 11 years, so my family are more on the Sunderland side of things now.
“They’ll be wishing me all the best and hopefully I can go out and help turn Newcastle over.
“It might help me being a local lad. But I’m sure the gaffer won’t be shy in stressing how important it is to the fans.
“Most of the lads have been here a while and others will have played in big derbies as well.
“If you could have chosen, I don’t think you’d have picked the game to be so early in the season.
“You want to give players time to settle, but that’s the way it goes.
“It’s come now and everyone will be raring to go. I think it’s every footballer’s aim to play in a derby like this – they don’t get much bigger.”
Colback was one of Sunderland’s stand-out performers in last weekend’s draw at Liverpool after receiving a vote of confidence from Bruce.
The Black Cats boss boosted his midfield options this summer with the arrival of Craig Gardner and David Vaughan, but he kept faith with Colback, who impressed after being handed starts in the final six games of last season.
Colback added: “Hopefully I did enough against Liverpool to get a another start.
“The manager has brought in a lot of new faces and it’s great that he decided to pick me.
“He showed the faith in me and I want to repay that now.
“Hopefully I can continue to progress and do well for the club.
“It’s always going to be hard to start at a Premier League club and the manager has brought in a lot of quality players this summer.
“So I was always up against the wall to keep my place.
“But I kept my head down and I’ve obviously done well enough in pre-season to start.”