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STOP McCLEAN! Pardew says James is Cats' main threat

NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew has drawn up a plan to thwart Sunderland tomorrow - stop James McClean.

Pardew confirmed that Danny Simpson will be charged with the man-marking job and the players have history after a Simpson challenge on McClean sparked a melee between both sets of players in their last meeting.

"Danny's a good player. He's sort of under-rated by our fanbase, but his defensive work's important," Pardew said.

"If I look at Sunday, and if you ask all our fans who they'd like to play against McClean -- who we know is a handful -- and they'd probably all pick Danny, because, defensively, he can deal with a wide player."

McClean missed Ireland's World Cup qualifiers with Germany and the Faroe Islands with a hip injury but is expected to be fit for tomorrow's showdown at the Stadium of Light.

McClean's Ireland team mate John O'Shea will take over the captain's armband tomorrow from the suspended Lee Cattermole and is relishing the clash.

"These are the big games you want to play in," he said.

"I was involved last year at St James' Park and it was an amazing game where we should really have held on.

"The atmosphere was fantastic and fingers crossed my first home derby will be special too."

The encounter will be the 146th meeting between the two teams in all competitions, and O'Shea has praised the pre-match atmosphere in the North East.

"I've met fans around the place and they are buzzing for the game. You can see how passionate people are," he added.

"I've played in a lot of derby games and I wouldn't say you ever get used to it because they are all one-off matches.

"You really feel you have to give everything you've got."

Meanwhile, Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will send his players into derby battle telling them they can emulate Newcastle's return to prominence. The Magpies defied the odds last season to finish in fifth place in the Premier League and secure European football just two years after fighting their way back into the top flight in the wake of relegation.

Under Texan owner and chairman Ellis Short, the Black Cats have their own ambitions of establishing themselves in the upper reaches of the table, and while the rivalry will be intense at the Stadium of Light tomorrow, O'Neill insists the recent success of their near neighbours should inspire the Wearsiders.

He said: "Of course, it should do, absolutely. We should take our lead from them in that sense.

"It was an exceptional season. This time last year, I wasn't working, so I was looking at it from afar, and perhaps when the results were coming in each weekend and Newcastle were still going strongly, I maybe felt, like a lot of people, they would do well to keep it going.

"But they did, they kept it going. Of course, they had a few hiccups along the way, but fought back again, won big games when they weren't playing well -- and that's always a sign of a half-decent side."