“Time is running out, there aren’t many games left and it’s a match we can’t think about losing”
“If we can win the game, the rewards are so big. If we come away with the three points I think we’ll kick on and be fine.
“We have to be confident with the way we’ve been playing and the results we’ve been getting.”
Sunderland sit just above the drop zone, a point better off than second-from-bottom Newcastle, who lost their first game under new boss Benitez 1-0 to leaders Leicester on Monday night.
The Black Cats’ amazing derby record has helped them pull-off great escapes in their last three seasons – including a Stadium of Light win 12 months ago sealed by a Defoe special which rates among the best-ever derby goals.
The 33-year-old former England striker said: “It’s going to be another special occasion. We’ve won the last six so we’ve done it before.
“Even if both teams weren’t in the situation we’re in, it’s still the game of the season but with the clubs needing the points it makes it even bigger.