CHRIS WILDER has stoked up the regional rivalry ahead of this evening's Tees-Wear derby by insisting he could not imagine switching allegiances like Tony Mowbray.

Mowbray might be a Middlesbrough legend after skippering and managing the club, but he will be in the Sunderland dug-out at the Riverside this evening after replacing Alex Neil as manager of the Black Cats last week. 

Wilder was raised as a die-hard Sheffield United fan and had some wonderful moments in charge of the Blades, and could not imagine himself walking out at Hillsborough as manager of Sheffield Wednesday.

“Manage Sheffield Wednesday? Are you kidding me? I think it’s safe to say I wouldn’t fancy a little wander out at Hillsborough,” said Wilder. “I’m driving through there to get to the motorway – that’s all I’m doing."

Neverthless, Wilder is delighted to see Mowbray back in management, although he is hoping the Saltburn-born 58-year-old does not enjoy his return to the Riverside tonight.

"Listen, it’s all in jest really regarding Tony," he said. "I’m delighted, like I think everybody is, to see him back in the game because he’s a good football guy.

"He wanted to get back in, and it’s a great move for him after his good work at Blackburn, and what has generally been a very good career in management.”

Boro were victors when tonight’s opponents last met at the Riverside in November 2017, with Marcus Tavernier scoring the only goal of the game, and Wilder knows the importance of claiming regional bragging rights.

“I definitely know the importance of a local derby,” he said. “Whether that was Oxford versus Swindon, where I put Paolo di Canio away three times, or my time with Sheffield United when I memorably put the opposition away in Sheffield once in particular.

"We understand it, and the message to the players will be that while the opposition might not think it’s a local derby, for us, it’s close and it’s there.

"We’re on our patch, and I think you’ve seen what it’s like when the noise gets turned up at home. Last year, we had some fabulous experiences. The Tottenham and Forest games stand out – a couple of big games there that were fabulous.

"The derby, with everything that surrounds that – the angst and agitation between both clubs – will certainly have that feel on Monday night. I think it’s going to be a cracking match.

"Both teams are going to be ambitious. I’m sure Sunderland won’t sit back in terms of what they’ve got going forward, and with the bounce of a promoted side.

"I’ve been in that position myself a few times, going into a new division where you feel you can take anybody on. You’ve got that confidence and belief that has built from a play-off win at Wembley, and it’s been a good start from their point of view.

"This is as tough as it gets this year at home, in my opinion. We need to turn up, but we have turned up all season.

"We need to put a balanced performance in – fire and ice as we call it – and make sure we’re nice and calm when we have to play, and then on the other side of it, we’re aggressive and competitive. That’s certainly what it’s going to be – it’s going to be aggressive and it’s going to be competitive."