Lee Cattermole has issued a rallying call to his Sunderland teammates ahead of the Tyne-Wear derby against Newcastle United this weekend.
Sunderland struggled to get out of the blocks in either of their matches with Newcastle last season, requiring a last minute equaliser to salvage a point in the second fixture at the Stadium of Light, after being battered at St James' Park earlier in the season.
But following an encouraging start to the season against Liverpool, where Sebastian Larsson's second half volley earned Steve Bruce's side a point, the skipper is looking for his side to raise their game.
“It was intense and a massive game last year," he said. "But it affected us more than it’s going to this year. We’re much more experienced now.
“The lads who played in it last year will have learned from it, myself included. I’m sure we’ll produce a better display.
“Even though we got beat 5-1, I still loved being in the stadium with all the fans against us.
“But on the day, no-one turned up. I think (Phil) Bardsley had a good game but that was about it.
“Even the likes of Benty (Darren Bent) froze and we had a lot of younger ones like Jordan (Henderson) who struggled.
“It’s hard when it gets like that, the pitch felt massive and you didn’t know where your team-mates were.”
The departure of Andy Carroll during the January transfer window has sparked a difficult period for Newcastle, with Luis Enrique and Kevin Nolan having both followed the striker out the door combined with Joey Barton's placement on the transfer list.
Cattermole hopes that Sunderland's stronger mindset will work in their favour come Saturday's game.
“I think Sunderland are a much more stable and healthy club at the minute, but I don’t think that counts for anything when it comes to derby day," he added.
“Newcastle have got a squad of players who are all good players and when it kicks off it’s so fast and furious.
“You need eight out of your 11 to put in good performances.
“Hopefully with the lads we’ve brought in, I think we’ll be able to go out and put on a better performance."
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