Sunderland have won their last six Premier League games against Newcastle United going into Sunday’s latest Tyne-Wear derby at St James’ Park.
Chancel Mbemba has returned to training after ankle problem and could feature for the first time since February 3 in what would be a boost for Rafael Benitez with skipper Fabricio Coloccini (calf) still struggling and Steven Taylor battling a knock.
Papiss Cisse is also training once again, but Tim Krul (knee), Paul Dummett (hamstring), Massadio Haidara (knee) and Kevin Mbabu (thigh) are still out.
Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe is expected to be fit after recovering from a calf strain picked up in the 1-1 Premier League draw at Southampton on March 5 – the Black Cats have not played since and he was due to resume training with the rest of the squad on Friday.
Lee Cattermole and Jeremain Lens are also back in contention following concussion and hernia surgery respectively, leaving Emmanuel Eboue (hamstring) and Duncan Watmore (ankle ligaments) as the visitors’ only absentees.
Kick-off at St James’ Park on Sunday is at 1.30pm.
- Sunderland have won the last six Tyne-Wear derbies in league competition, their best ever run against Newcastle United.
- Sunderland have beaten Newcastle United more times than they have any other opponent in the Premier League (9).
- Sunderland scored with all three shots on target in their win over Newcastle back in October at the Stadium of Light.
- Fabio Borini has scored more goals against Newcastle in the Premier League than versus any other opponent (3) and has scored in both of his PL apps for Sunderland against the Magpies.
- Newcastle have managed to score just one goal in their last 627 minutes of football against Sunderland.
- However, Rafa Benitez has not lost his opening home league match as manager at any of his last six clubs (W5 D1).
- The only opposition manager that Rafa Benitez has beaten more often in the Premier League than Sam Allardyce (7) is David Moyes (10).
- Jermain Defoe has scored seven goals in his last eight Premier League appearances away from home.
- However, Sunderland have shipped 38 goals away from home this season, the most of any team in the Premier League.
- The Black Cats have won just three of their last 26 Premier League away matches (W3 D8 L15).