Adam Johnson has said that he would be happy to lose to Newcastle if it meant that Sunderland finished above the Magpies at the end of the season.
Sunderland are currently seven points adrift of eighth placed Newcastle and are unbeaten in the last five meetings between the two sides, winning three times and drawing twice.
Johnson, who is yet to lose in a derby match said: “The fans sometimes say if you win the two derbies, it doesn’t matter where you finish.
“But I’d rather finish above them and lose one of the derbies personally. These games are massively important for reasons of local pride, but we need to treat it like any other game.”
Both sides have endured a tough start to the season; Newcastle were bottom of the table after failing to win any other their opening seven matches, however they have turned their season around and sit in eighth place, five points off the top four.
Sunderland meanwhile overcame an 8-0 loss to Southampton and have 16 points from as many games, however the side have drawn 10 times and won just twice this season.
Sunday’s match will take place at St James’ Park where Sunderland have won 3-0 in the last two meetings at the ground.
Sunderland however have not finished above Newcastle since the 2010/11 season when they finished 10th and the Magpies 12th.
The Black Cats have been given the advantage; Newcastle met Tottenham on Wednesday evening and a strong side suffered a morale sapping 4-0 defeat in the Capital One Cup.