Shola Ameobi has a strong case to start Tyne-Wear tussle
The Tyne-Wear derby is still over a week away - but even before Newcastle United's players return from international duty the debate over who should lead the line of attack for the Magpies is alive and kicking.
The main topic of debate has been whether to select Shola Ameobi ahead of number 9 Papiss Cisse.
It will be interesting to see who Alan Pardew goes for in this game and the manager has already hinted he wants players who fully "understand" what the occasion is all about.
Newcastle are desperately trying to get Steven Taylor fit for battle, while Ameobi has a strong case to get the nod from the start on Wearside.
His derby record of seven goals is an amazing statistic and only Wor Jackie has more.
Some argue that Pardew should start with his strongest team and put sentiment to one side, but in a derby applying logic can prove to be dangerous.
This was the case for Ruud Gullit and Joe Kinnear who underestimated the fixture and played the game down.
Pardew, in my opinion, is way smarter than the Dutchman and the ex-Wimbledon boss.
In fact he's streets ahead.
Ameobi's physical presence has caused Sunderland no shortage of problems down the years and that is something that will be considered by the backroom team next week.
It was missed against Manchester United.
But then on the other hand, you can't argue with the overall goal records of Cisse and Ba.
Cisse is due a run of Premier League goals if last season is anything to go by.
However, the psychological affect of Ameobi in the game could be what swings it.
The big question is do Newcastle use that major advantage from the start or like last season's home fixture, bring the big man off the bench?