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Published: 13:33 | 19/3/16

Allardyce prepared for tough derby battle

Boss calls for mental toughness

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce says his side must be mentally prepared for a tough battle if they are to record a seventh successive Tyne-Wear derby victory over rivals Newcastle on Sunday.

Victory is critical for both sides if they are to avoid relegation at the end of the season and Allardyce knows his team will have to dig deep if they are to get anything out of the contest at St James' Park.

"Mentally you have to be right, my players need to be right mentally," he said.

"My focus has been on the mental side of this game because there's so much at stake.

"They have to make sure they can manage the game well mentally to produce the abilities they have got, which will hopefully give them the desire and the ability and the aptitude to try to win this game.

"If we keep control mentally, we will be in a very good place because we have been playing pretty well. We have to focus on making sure when a chance comes our way that hopefully we will have the right player at the right time to convert that chance into a goal.

"Each and every game of football is different, the bounce of the ball and the rub of the green, somebody being in the right place at the right time - the referee not making a mistake against you is another scenario you don't want to happen in a big derby like this, especially with so much at stake.

"We can look after ourselves and then other factors can take the game away from you."

However, Allardyce, who spent a disappointing eight months in charge at Newcastle during the 2007-2008 season, is determined to enjoy to enjoy his return to St James' Park by overseeing a win for the Black Cats.

"There's only one way you can enjoy a derby, and that's by winning it. There's no other way. You can say the atmosphere is great, but it's not great if you don't win it," he added.

"The only way you can really enjoy a derby match is by actually winning it, and of course you want to not just win it for yourself, you want to win it for the fans. You know how important it is to them and you want them to have the bragging rights for the rest of that week."

By: Kieran O'Daly

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