Eddie Howe has opened up on the importance of Newcastle’s homegrown core as the club prepare to face North-East rivals Sunderland for the first time in seven years.
This weekend’s FA Cup third round will feature the first Tyne-Wear Derby since 2016, as Newcastle travel to face Sunderland for the first time since the latter’s top-flight relegation.
It will be a first experience of this fixture for the vast majority of Howe’s squad, and the Newcastle boss believes the club’s homegrown core will be a big benefit ahead of the occasion.
Sean Longstaff, Dan Burn, Lewis Miley and Paul Dummett are among the local players well versed in the history of the rivalry.
“I think you need that within your team ideally,” Howe said at his pre-match press conference.
“Not to say you have to have it but I think I always by preference would have a sprinkling of players that have come through the youth system, have a great understanding of the football club, can educate people, new players coming in, on expectations of the football club, how things have been done through time and I think that’s a really useful thing for us to have in this situation.
“We do have some great characters that have been here a long time and they can really help in difficult moments, good moments. They really are the core of the club. We’re delighted to have them.”
Newcastle head into the clash on a run of seven defeats in eight games in all competitions, and Howe said it is important his team return to winning ways against their local rivals.
“Pretty early on I think, the first day,” Howe said on when he knew about the importance of the rivalry with Sunderland.
“Of course being in different leagues, it’s not relevant, it’s not immediately brought to your attention. I think everybody knows. I knew before coming here, it’s a very very intense rivalry between the two clubs.
“I think we’ll get a better taste of that tomorrow but I think from our perspective, we’re trying to prepare the game properly, trying to get the players to their best levels. For us it’s important we get back to winning ways.
“You can’t escape it here. Even new players coming in, especially in the build up to the game, and everything that entails will know what this means to our supporters.”