It’s rather cruel to suggest it but Damien Duff might get a rapturous reception at Sunderland tomorrow. The reason? His own goal helped send Newcastle down.

The Irish winger goes back to the north east on Sunday glad to have escaped what he describes as a difficult few seasons with Newcastle.

I had a difficult few years up in the north-east but I’m just happy to be back playing and thankful to be playing good football with a good team and a good manager, and long may it continue. It’s always going to be hard going up there [to Sunderland] but we’ll keep working hard and see what comes.

It’s not so long ago, January, that we had an horrendous month and people were writing us off so it’s credit to the gaffer and the lads that we bounced back. It’s exciting times for a club which two years ago just escaped from relegation on the last day, so we’ve come a long way since then.

The gaffer has come in and done brilliantly ever since. We have a small squad but when anyone comes in to do a job, they do great. And with a top manager, working with him every day is going to pay off.