Beating Sunderland key to Newcastle United hopes, says Ricky Sbragia

St James Park

The two sides meet in a huge Tyne-Wear derby this weekend.

Beating Sunderland will be key to Newcastle United’s hopes of escaping relegation, former Black Cats boss Ricky Sbragia has told Sky Sports.

The two sides meet in the Tyne-Wear derby this weekend, in what is now a crucial relegation clash for the both of them.

Newcastle are currently in the bottom three and a point from safety, with Sunderland sitting in 17th place above them outside of the relegation zone.

A win for either side would be a huge step to avoiding the drop, although Sbragia believes that the relegation race will go right to the last day regardless.

"There are so many relegation permutations out of it yet. If Sunderland win, they break away from Newcastle," he told Sky Sports.

"It's key for Newcastle that they get something form the game and a win would be great for them, as it brings it all together.”

"I think it will go right to the last day. Can they bring a club down into the mix from further up the table? They are maybe too many points ahead.”

If you had to choose now however, it would arguably be Sunderland where your money would end up.

That is because they have Sam Allardyce as manager, with him having been in this sort of situation before and knowledgeable on how to escape it.

In contrast, Rafa Benitez has spent the majority of his career battling at the top of the table, and it will be interesting to see how he adapts with so few games remaining.

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