Steve McClaren insists he will not even allow himself to look at the Premier League table until Newcastle start winning on a regular basis.
The Magpies lifted themselves off the bottom as a result of last weekend’s 6-2 home victory over Norwich – their first of the season – and in the process, sent this Sunday’s hosts Sunderland back to the foot.
But while a derby win at the Stadium of Light could ease Newcastle closer to safety, head coach McClaren will not be casting an eye over the standings for some time yet.
He said: “I’m not even looking at the table at the present moment. It’s been a head-down week, focusing on the game. We won’t look at the league table until we get a few wins.
“There’s a long way to go in the season.”
If the Magpies are to make the short journey back from Wearside with a positive result, they will have to break a losing streak against their neighbours which was extended to five games home and away by Jermain Defoe’s lone strike on Wearside in April.
However, McClaren, who arrived at St James’ Park during the summer, will not look back to that game as he prepares his new-look team for a game in which form is often irrelevant.
He said: “We don’t do that on any other game, so we are not preparing for this any differently, and why should we? Why should we put any more importance on this? That would be saying that we are not putting important on any other game.
“In this Premier League, every game is vital and Sunday is no different. It’s a little bit special because the fans are also competing against each other.”
McClaren has no fresh injury concerns after defenders Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara and midfielder Cheick Tiote emerged from the Norwich game unscathed on their return from injury.
He has also been boosted by the sight of defender Kevin Mbabu and midfielder Rolando Aarons to training after hamstring and calf problems respectively, although the game could come too soon for them.
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