Rafa Benitez has spoken to the media on Friday afternoon ahead of the derby.

The newly installed Newcastle manager says that Sunday is ‘massive for the city and the fans’.

Rafa Benitez says that the players are committed and ‘trying to understand’ how he and his coaching team want them to do things.

As for player availability, Sky Sports reported this morning that Steven Taylor had missed training.

Benitez says that despite this Taylor would be available to face Sunderland.

He also confirmed that Chancel Mbemba was now back training, though Coloccini was still missing.

So it now looks as though Rafa Benitez will have the choice of sticking with Lascelles and Taylor, or throw Chancel Mbemba straight back in after a couple of full training sessions.

Rafa Benitez quotes released by the club from today’s press conference:

“The fans are crucial for us. We have to stick together and be sure that every fan can help the players on the pitch.

“The players have commitment, they are working very hard and are trying to understand our ideas of what we want to do.

“A derby is massive for the city and the fans. We have to try and win.

“We know every game between now and the end of the season is important, but especially this one.

“Chancel Mbemba has trained, Fabricio Coloccini has not. Steven Taylor will be okay.”