Micky Gray names the player Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce simply must start against Newcastle

Sunderland are set to face Newcastle United at St. James' Park on Sunday.

Micky Gray has told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast Show on TalkSPORT that Sam Allardyce simply has to start Jermain Defoe in Sunderland’s match against Newcastle United.

The Black Cats take on Newcastle at St. James’ Park on Sunday, looking to make it seven wins in a row over their local rivals.

The match looks set to be season defining for both clubs, as they look to avoid the drop.

If Newcastle are able to claim the victory they could move out of the drop zone, but if Sunderland win they would put daylight between themselves and the bottom three.

There is set to be a fierce atmosphere at St. James’ Park, and Gray has suggested that Defoe must start for Sunderland in a game of such magnitude.

“It’s the biggest game of Sunderland’s season - and Newcastle as well,” he said. “You can’t split the sides. Newcastle can’t score goals, but they looked well organised against Leicester.

“Allardyce has mentioned how he’s got to manage Defoe, but he’s got to start him in a game like that. The atmosphere will be incredible. It’s going to be special.”

Defoe has been Sunderland’s most likely route to goal this season, but he has been rotated since Allardyce took charge.

The veteran forward was not in Sunderland’s starting line-up last weekend for their match against Southampton, but he scored after being introduced from the bench.

That goal was Defoe’s 14th in 26 appearances this campaign, and it would be a major shock if he did not get the nod to start on Sunday.

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