Michael Gray comments on Sunderland's derby debutants, backs Sam Allardyce to get message across

The Sunderland legend is hopeful the newbies will perform.

Sunderland take on Newcastle United in the Tyne-Wear derby tomorrow and for some of the players on both teams it will be their first ever North-East derby clash.

For Sunderland the likes of Jan Kirchoff, Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Kone will be featuring in their first of these clashes and that could be an issue.

It is sometimes suggested that foreign players do not quite understand the magnitude of this fixture.

But one former Sunderland player does not fear that the magnitude of the fixture will be lost on the Black Cats newbies.

Michael 'Micky' Gray played in plenty of these games. A boyhood Sunderland fan who was with the club for 14 years and played over 350 league games for the club.

He told Sky Sports' Soccer AM that he felt Sam Allardyce would make the importance of this game clear and that the importance of the game would become immediately clear at the start of the game:

"It's going into the cauldron I suppose really. I mean Sam, with the experience that he's got, if there is anyone making their debut tomorrow it is up to him to use his experience.

"It's just another game, but as soon as they cross that white line they'll realise it is more than just a game."

It must be pointed out that Sunderland are not the only ones with derby debutants set to feature in this game.

Newcastle United will also have plenty of newbies to this fixture after their own January business so it might prove even in this regard.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch