Good morning, Toon Army. You like the new digs? Thanks for making the move with us over here. Follow the jump for news on Andy Carroll's availability (as well as his reported transfer status), a new transfer rumor, an all-prisoner team, and more.
There had been rumblings that Andy Carroll might be able to overcome his thigh injury and play in the derby, but we'll have to wait at least one more week to see Mr. Carroll "perk up like a meerkat." Leon Best and Super Shola up front, then? Or would you throw Peter Lovenkrands in the mix? (Lee Ryder, The Chronicle) Of course, Shola Ameobi's fitness isn't a given, either. He will take a late fitness test to determine his availability for Sunday's match. (Lee Ryder, The Chronicle)
Alan Pardew knows that he will be judged by how well his side does in the Tyne-Wear Derby. Here, he gives a shrewd interview casting Sunderland as the favorites to win (though in fairness, they really are). (Louise Taylor, The Guardian)
Shola Ameobi is set to switch his international allegiance to Nigeria. He has been called up to the club for their next friendly match against Guatemala on February 9. (Graeme Bailey, Sky Sports)
In preparation for the derby, Jonathan Wilson and Chris Donald of The Sabotage Times pick their all-time Starting XI's for both Sunderland and Newcastle. Backpage Football picks a different kind of Starting XI, and Joey Barton makes the list.
News of an imminent Andy Carroll defection to Tottenham Hotspur isn't being reported by any actual reporter, but the bookies have been heavily adjusting the odds recently for some reason. This is almost always a non-story, but I'm keeping tabs on this one. I'm on high alert when it comes to Carroll because of the sheer volume of ink spilled over his possible departure. I can't wait for January to be over. (CaughtOffside)
28 year-old midfielder Karim Ziani of Wolfsburg has been linked to Newcastle off and on for the last several weeks, and according to at least one source, talks are back on. I like the guy, but at this point I need to see something to believe it. This link, though, has an interesting tidbit about the relationship between Ziani and Hatem Ben Arfa. (The Mail)