Q&A: Sunderland reporter Chris Young answers your Derby Day questions including the latest on Adam Johnson and Dick Advocaat’s home debut

Sunderland's Dick Advocaat.
Sunderland's Dick Advocaat.

Will Adam Johnson start for Sunderland against Newcastle United? How will Dick Advocaat approach his first Derby Day?

We held a live webchat with Sunderland reporter Chris Young ahead of Derby Day at the Stadium of Light on Easter Sunday (KO 4pm).

It was a chance for fans of the Black Cats to grill our man in the know ahead of the highly-anticipated Premier League clash.

The live Q&A featured everything from team news and team selection, to whether Johnson should start against John Carver’s Newcastle United?

Below is selection of some of the best questions and answers sent in via Facebook and Twitter.

1) Via numerous SAFC fans, will Adam Johnson start?

CY: Difficult one on Adam Johnson, considering the flak he will inevitably face from the travelling fans.

Only Dick Advocaat will really know if he’s mentally ready to start yet.

On paper, you’d have Johnson in the starting XI, particularly given his feats against Newcastle.

Saying that, I thought Wickham did well in the hole behind the front two at West Ham.

Don’t forget either the impact Borini made as a sub at the SoL last season.

2) Paul Scrafton, via Facebook, wanted to know whether Jermain Defoe will start after his recent goal drought?

CY: Would be a big call to drop Defoe, even though I thought he was the poorest of the three strikers at West Ham and Adam Johnson is obviously back.

Interesting chatting to Defoe yesterday. Was really licking his lips at the prospect of the game.

Think he’s genuinely looking forward to it and team-mates have been telling him how this will be another beast altogether than the North London derby.

3) John Price, from Hetton, wants to know whether Dick Advocaat has ever experienced a Wear-Tyne Derby before? What is he expecting?

CY: Don’t think Advocaat has ever been to a Wear-Tyne derby as a spectator. But I think it’s crucial that he was in charge at Rangers for four years and will have experienced a similarly hostile environment in the Old Firm.

That’s on a par with this rivalry, so don’t think it will phase him.

4) How important is the return of Lee Cattermole to the Sunderland side, Chris?

CY: As we saw in the first two months of 2015 when he’s injured, Cattermole is a huge player for Sunderland.

I spoke to a scout of another PL club a few weeks back and he reckoned he hadn’t seen a better defensive midfielder all season.

He’s the player who makes Sunderland tick - on and off the pitch.

5) John, from Sunderland, wanted to know whether the Black Cats will have benefited from the international break and Advocaat having some time to work with players?

CY: I think the international break came at a good time, particularly considering there’s not been too many who’ve gone away with their countries, plus O’Shea and Fletcher were back training yesterday.

Advocaat will at least have had chance to draw breath, watch some more videos and get to grips with his squad

6) John Mennear, from Hartlepool, asked via Facebook whether Stephen Fletcher can bring his international success to Sunday’s derby game?

CY: It’s an interesting one on Fletcher. Gibraltor are probably Conference-standard opposition at best. But a goal is a goal and getting three of them after not scoring since November, can’t do him any harm.

I actually thought Fletcher played a lot better at West Ham, so hopefully he’s coming into some form.

7) What do you make of the decision to stage the game at 4pm on Easter Sunday?

CY: Surprising decision that the police’s concerns didn’t see it moved earlier, particularly considering it’s a Bank Holiday weekend.

I think this one will be a litmus test over whether the game can be moved away from that lunchtime slot.

And finally...a prediction Chris?

CY: I’ll go for a 1-0 Sunderland victory. I fancy Steven Fletcher for the winner.

To read the full transcript from the live Q&A with Chris Young click here