Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce expects a tightly contested Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday and has stressed mentality will be key.
The Black Cats travel to Newcastle in a crucial derby clash, with Sunderland on 25 points in 17th place – one point ahead of the St James’ Park side who are 19th.
The result on Sunday could go a long way to deciding who manages to avoid relegation and Allardyce feels small margins could be the difference.
He said: “Mentally you have to be right, my players need to be right mentally. My focus has been on the mental side of this game because there’s so much at stake.
“They have to make sure they can manage the game well mentally to produce the abilities they have got, which will hopefully give them the desire and the ability and the aptitude to try to win this game.
“If we keep control mentally, we will be in a very good place because we have been playing pretty well. We have to focus on making sure when a chance comes our way that hopefully we will have the right player at the right time to convert that chance into a goal.”
He added: “Each and every game of football is different, the bounce of the ball and the rub of the green, somebody being in the right place at the right time – the referee not making a mistake against you is another scenario you don’t want to happen in a big derby like this, especially with so much at stake.
“We can look after ourselves and then other factors can take the game away from you.”