Turner primed for Tyne-Wear derby
Sunderland defender Michael Turner is relishing the biggest derby test of his career to date.
The 26-year-old has contested local rivalries before with Brentford and Hull, but admits Sunday's Tyne-Wear showdown between the Black Cats and Newcastle at St James' Park will be an entirely new experience.
He said: "They are minor compared to this one, but even in those games you can sense a different kind of feeling in the game and the atmosphere around the place. Brentford v Luton and Hull v Scunthorpe - the battle of the Humber that was - again, they were nothing really compared to this, but on their day it was quite feisty on and off the pitch."
He added: "Obviously, this one on a totally different scale, is going to be special.
"They are feisty occasions. Supporters from the same area come together with their teams fighting it out against each other.
"It's a big game and one we are all looking forward to being involved in."
Of the 11 men who started the last encounter between the two sides on Tyneside, a 1-1 draw on February 1, 2009, only Phil Bardsley, Anton Ferdinand, Kieran Richardson and Steed Malbranque have a chance of doing so this time around, with George McCartney currently on loan at Leeds.
Ferdinand, Malbranque and Richardson are the only survivors of the famous 2-1 victory at the Stadium of Light earlier that season, when Richardson's late free-kick secured a first home win for the Wearsiders over Newcastle in 28 years.
However, skipper Lee Cattermole and Dutchman Boudewijn Zenden have both played in derbies at St James' for former club Middlesbrough, and there has been no shortage of advice for the novices.
Turner said: "Everyone has asked all the people who have been here, 'What are they like?', and they have said they are great occasions. Everyone is looking forward to it here. People who have been there and done it before can't wait to get in there, and likewise for the boys who haven't been there. Everyone is excited about going into it."
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