By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
Cheick Tiote insists Newcastle United are ready for this weekend's Tyne-Wear derby as they bid to make up for last season's disappointment in the local bragging stakes.
The Magpies travel to the Stadium of Light on Sunday (1.30pm kick-off) to face a Sunderland side who have just one point to their name so far this term.
However, despite their opponents' lowly position at the foot of the Barclays Premier League table, Tiote and Co will take nothing for granted against the Black Cats, especially after being humbled 3-0 at St. James' Park when the sides last met, in April.
For some of the stars in United's dressing room, Sunday will be their first experience of an away-day local derby, but stand-in skipper Tiote insists the whole squad is well aware of what the fixture means.
"We know already, we don't need anybody to tell us that it is a big game," he told nufc.co.uk.
"It is a big game not only for us but for the supporters as well and everyone in Newcastle. Everyone wants to win it.
"We are ready for it. We lost against Sunderland last season and that hurt us. It was a bad day and we want to do much better.
"This year we will do everything we can to have a good season. We want to finish higher up the league than last year and we want to make up for that bad result against Sunderland."
In the absence of the injured Fabricio Coloccini, Tiote wore the captain's armband last weekend as Newcastle recorded an impressive draw with Liverpool.
The Ivorian is not yet sure if he will be given the role again but, if given the nod, admitted it would be a huge honour.
"The manager could pick somebody else for this game, who knows," he said.
"But if I was captain again, especially for the match against Sunderland, it would mean everything to me."