Newcastle’s upcoming derby clash with Sunderland is a must-win game for the Magpies’ Premier League survival hopes, former chairman Freddy Shepherd has told talkSPORT.
The Tyneside outfit slipped to a 1-0 defeat against table-topping Leicester on Monday in Rafael Benitez’s first outing as manager, a result which leaves them still one point from safety in 19th place.
The Magpies showed feint signs of life against Foxes after just three days with Benitez at the helm, and following the Leicester game the new boss was confident his side have enough to avoid the drop.
Shepherd shares the Spaniard’s optimism ahead of Sunday’s massive Tyne-Wear clash at St James’ Park, though he admits defeat to the Black Cats may spell doom for the side.
Speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, Shepherd said: “At home we’ve got a great chance to beat Sunderland, I honestly believe that.
“It looks pretty dismal for Newcastle at the moment, but we’ll come through. I think Sunderland is the biggest game of the season for us, without a doubt.
Asked if he believed the cub’s foreign players know what the Tyne-Wear derby means to Newcastle, he replied: “No. Simple, no. but they will do at the weekend.
“This is a huge game for both clubs, and if we lose against Sunderland I think we’re in real trouble.
“At the moment we’ve got an escape route, and we’ll start to go along that with a win in the Sunderland game. But if don’t win in Newcastle we’ve got real problems.”