Newcastle and Sunderland set to play surprise behind-closed-doors derby

Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren

Newcastle United and Sunderland are set to play a behind-closed-doors derby game.

The proposed practice game, which is pencilled in to be played at the Stadium of Light this week, has been arranged to top up the fitness of a number of senior players from both clubs.

Newcastle and Sunderland normally play behind-closed-doors games against lower league sides.

And the decision to face each other will raise eyebrows given that fixtures at any level between the two teams are fiercely competitive – and neither club can afford any more injuries.

However, with both sides out of the FA Cup, and facing a free weekend, United head coach Steve McClaren and Sam Allardyce, his counterpart at Sunderland, have arranged the unusual match.

The game will not be played in front of any spectators.

Newcastle and Sunderland will face each other at St James’s Park in a televised Premier League fixture on March 20.

Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Under-21s were beaten by Derby County at Whitley Park last night.

Lewis McNall scored for Peter Beardsley’s side.