Allardyce boasts about the state of his players, says he's doing the opposite to Benitez ahead of Tyne-Wear derby

Sunderland Gates

The two managers have taken contrasting approaches to Sunday's crucial Premier League fixture.

Sam Allardyce has been boasting about the fitness of his Sunderland players ahead of Sunday's Tyne-Wear derby against Newcastle United.

A report in Thursday's Daily Mail claimed that new Magpies boss Rafa Benitez had scrapped planned days off in favour of double training sessions, with his side in need of a win to move out of the bottom three.

Allardyce though, believes such an approach would only hamper his players.

"I’ve done the opposite to Rafa, I’ve given them a bit of time off," the Black Cats boss told talkSPORT's Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show on Friday. "We can’t get any fitter than we are now - we can’t do any more!

"The mental state of the derby is the most important thing - the mental side of the players will be the determination of whether they will win or not.

"The decisions they make on the day - what happens between peers - will be the biggest and most and important thing for my team. If they make the right decisions... they have the ability, they have the fitness and the knowledge about each other to win the game.

"If they’ve got a mental fragility about themselves and can’t take the pressure of that match then it’ll be very difficult."

Sunderland are chasing a seventh straight win over their fiercest rivals, who've scored one goal in that time.

Allardyce's first win in charge of the Mackems came during October's corresponding fixture, and the 61-year-old has gradually turned his side's season around - taking 22 points from his 21 matches.

Newcastle though, who were managed by Allardyce during the 2007-08 campaign, are still looking for their first three points of the Benitez era, after the Spaniard oversaw a 1-0 defeat to top of the table Leicester City on Monday.

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