Ex-Sunderland man suggests which North East club would be hit harder by derby defeat

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Martin Smith believes losing Sunday's Tyne-Wear derby would be a much bigger blow for Newcastle United that it would be for the Black Cats.

Former Sunderland forward Martin Smith has told SportByte, as quoted by the Sunderland Echo, that defeat in the Tyne-Wear derby this Sunday would do considerably more damage to Newcastle United than it would to his old side.

The North East rivals face off at St. James' Park on this weekend in a huge fixture in the context of the relegation battle, with the Magpies second bottom and the Black Cats a point ahead, outside the bottom three only on goal difference.

Newcastle are on a torrid run against the arch-rivals, with no victory over Sunderland in any of the last eight meetings since 2011, and having lost the last six in a row.

Smith, who grew up as a Sunderland fan and scored 28 goals in 145 appearances for the club in the 1990s, insists that a seventh defeat on the spin in the derby would do irreparable damage to the Magpies bid to avoid relegation.

The 41-year-old said, as quoted by the Echo: "I still think we’ve got enough to stay up. I think if they [Newcastle] get beaten, it’ll have a bigger detrimental effect on them, whereas we have the players and the characters in the team to bounce back.

"If you'd have asked me this time last week I’d have been massively confident [about winning], especially if [Steve] McClaren was still there.

"I've got a feeling it might be a draw. A low scoring draw which, away from home, you’d probably take. I don’t think we’ll get beaten."

Sunderland's rivals certainly displayed some positive signs in their first match under McClaren's replacement Rafael Benitez, but still went down 1-0 to league leaders Leicester City on Monday night.

That defeat leaves the Magpies second-bottom of the Premier League, a point and two places behind Sunderland albeit with a game in hand.

After this weekend's all-important clash, both North East sides still have potentially pivotal fixtures against the team that currently separates them in the table, Norwich City, before the end of the season.

Victory in Sunday's derby would allow Sunderland to move four points clear of Newcastle, whilst defeat would see them leapfrogged by their rivals and fall into the relegation zone.

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