Seb Larsson says Sunderland must embrace the pressure of Sunday’s relegation showdown with local rivals Newcastle.
The Tyne-Wear derby takes on even greater significance this season with both clubs in relegation trouble.
The Black Cats sit a point above the Magpies and one place outside the relegation zone, with Norwich sandwiched in between the two north-east sides in the table.
Larsson is well aware the game is huge and brings added pressure because of the threat of going down hovering over both clubs but he hopes his team-mates handle it and step up to the plate this weekend.
“It’s a massive game, but they’re always massive. I’ve been involved in enough of them now to realise how important they are for the whole area,” he said.
“But three points for either team at this stage of the season is obviously massive. We all know that. If we can get them in the local derby as well, it would obviously put us in a good situation.”
He added in the Chronicle: “But there’s still a lot of games to go after that, so nothing is going to be decided, even though we’re desperate for the points.”
“Of course there’s more pressure on the game with both clubs involved in the relegation fight. But you always look forward to this game.
“Yes, the pressureÂ’s on because of the situation in the league, but it’s one of those games that you want to be involved in as a player. You want to walk away from St James’ Park with three points again, which would set us up nicely for the run-in.”