Gareth Southgate has no interest in the debate over the demise of Barclays Premier League football in the north-east this season.
The region's three top-flight clubs have endured a miserable campaign to date with Southgate's Middlesbrough in deep trouble just one place off the bottom of the table, and neighbours Newcastle only two points and one position better off. Even Sunderland, who have invested in excess of Â£70million in their squad in less than three years, are only three points clear of the drop zone.
However, Southgate insists the respective plights of his club's derby rivals are irrelevant as he attempts to pull off a great escape, saying: "I'm not bothered about anyone else. Nobody else in the north-east is really bothered about us, so we will focus on what we want to do and what we need to do."
He added: "If other teams go, that's football. Three teams have got to go from the division.
"It's irrelevant, really. People talk about the north-east, but people want their own team to do well, so from our point of view, we will focus on us.
"We wish the others good luck, as you do to every team, but it's a tough business out there.
"Nobody is going to do us any favours and we are not too concerned about anybody else."
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