Newcastle will have to get used to life without Yohan Cabaye as they welcome Sunderland to St James' Park on Saturday for the second Tyne-Wear derby of the season.
Alan Pardew's Newcastle (11-4-8) were held to a goalless draw by Norwich in midweek in the club's first game since the departure of Cabaye to Paris Saint Germain in a reported £19M deal. The midfielder has been a key figure in the Magpies' success over recent years, but Pardew wished him well at his new club.
"You don't want to lose your best players and he was a great player here, certainly one of the best midfield players this club has ever had," said Pardew. "I am sad to see him go. We wish him well.
"We improved him at this club, for sure. His confidence grew with 52,000 fans watching him and knowing he can perform on that stage. Myself and my staff worked on his ability to create and score more goals and that worked well for him as well. He takes that into his new club and into France in the World Cup finals."
Visitors Sunderland (5-6-12) have lost just one of their last eight games, and a 1-0 midweek win over Stoke saw them move out of the relegation zone for the first time this season.
"It's fantastic for us to be out of the bottom three, if I'm honest," said assistant coach Charlie Oatway after the win over the Potters. "It has been a long time coming. When Gus (Poyet) and the rest of us first arrived at Sunderland, it was one of our very first aims. It has taken a long time to do it but the satisfaction in the camp is fantastic.
"It would be wrong of me to say that now we're out of the bottom three the shackles will come off because I don't think we've been playing with the shackles on particularly. I think we have been improving generally as the season progresses and maybe we'll feel a little more at ease now that we've got a home win and are out of the bottom three. But we are taking nothing for granted."
Newcastle have injury doubts over Yoan Gouffran (knock), Gabriel Obertan (knock) and Papiss Cisse (back), while Gael Bigirimana (ankle), Fabio Coloccini (knee) and Ryan Taylor (knee) remain out. Sunderland have doubts over Lee Cattermole (knock), but Carlos Cuellar (hip) is out.
Sunderland beat Newcastle 2-1 when these teams met in October. It was Poyet's first home game in charge of the Black Cats, who got their first victory of the season after a disastrous start in which they had claimed only one point through nine matches and sacked Paolo di Canio.
The Magpies have failed to win any of their last four meetings with their local rivals, but lost just one of the 16 previous Tyne-Wear derbies.
- Sports & Recreation
- Yohan Cabaye
- Alan Pardew