Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan is expecting a 'classic' when his side take on Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday.
Both sides have defied expectations in the Premier League so far this season, with encouraging results leaving the Magpies eighth, while their local rivals sit two spots above in sixth.
Midfielder Nolan helped his side to a 5-1 hammering of the Black Cats when they met at St James' Park in October, and the skipper is expecting just as much drama at the Stadium of Light this weekend.
Nolan told Journal Live: "We're eighth and they're sixth. It's great for the region and really sets up the derby. It's fantastic. We have got to be so happy, the way we have come into the Premier League.
"The Tyne-Wear derby is going to be a classic. Obviously, they are a wounded animal after what happened at St James' the last time we met, but it is up to us to go there and make sure we put in another professional performance. Hopefully if we do that, our strategy goes according to plan.
"I joined this club before the derby two seasons ago and made my debut in it. At that time, it was almost as if the clubs were dragging each other down, so it is nice to be going into one with both teams going well in the Premier League."
The skipper admits Sunderland's form has been impressive under manager Steve Bruce this season as they push for a European spot.
"No matter what, we want healthy competition in our region and the fact is that Sunderland have a fantastic chance (of Europe). Steve Bruce has done a great job there," he added.
"I know he has had a lot of money to spend but he has still had to produce the results and I think they have done really well. Hats off to them.
"Hopefully, if we get the money, we can spend like they have done and then start pushing them because they have really got to be looking at Europe, while we are a team that has just come up and cannot allow ourselves to get carried away about what we have done this year."
Meanwhile, Magpies midfielder Dan Gosling is set to play for the first time since March in a behind-closed-doors practice match against Hibernian at the club's training ground this week.
The 20-year-old, a summer signing from Everton, is yet to appear for Newcastle having struggled to overcome a cruciate ligament injury sustained while playing for the Toffees at Wolves last year.
"I've been looking forward to a game for a few months now so I can't wait," He told Newcastle's official website.
"Hopefully I'll get a good run out and we'll take it from there.
"The snow has halted my progress lately. I've been inside because the lads couldn't go outside due to the weather, and that doesn't prepare you properly to start playing again when you've been out for as long as I have. So it stopped my progress, but I feel good now."
Gosling travelled to Newcastle's recent games at Wigan and Stevenage with the squad, and hopes to be back in action by the end of the month.
He added: "I was actually disappointed not to make the bench at Stevenage, but I've very close.
"Hopefully I can get a good run-out on Wednesday, push on from there and see what the gaffer's thoughts are."