CHRIS COLEMAN insists he holds no regrets about taking on the Sunderland job as he prepares for a Middlesbrough visit to the Stadium of Light he does not consider to be a derby.

There has always been a feeling on Wearside that any date with Boro should not be described as the Wear-Tees derby because only Newcastle United can be truly considered as local rivals.

Regardless of how significant the fixture is for local pride, though, it is a meeting on Saturday between the two A19 neighbours that carries huge importance in terms of the league position.

Rock bottom Sunderland need to win to boost their chances of survival, while Middlesbrough are looking to close the three point gap to the play-off places.

Coleman said: “I don’t think this is a derby for us, that’s Newcastle. Whether we like it or not, we see Newcastle as the derby, Middlesbrough is a big game like Hull is because it’s quite local.

“I don’t look at this as having the added spice of a derby game. They are fighting for different things to us. It will be another tough game, and the fancied team is them.

“I don’t look at this game as thinking we have to contend with the derby thing, though, I just don’t see it like that.”

Sunderland will be without Ashley Fletcher who is ineligible under the terms of his loan from Middlesbrough, so the options will be Joel Asoro and Josh Maja to lead the attack.

Coleman was satisfied with his team’s display at Bolton on Tuesday, even if it was yet another defeat – the fourth from the last five winless matches that has increased relegation worries.

“I am not sorry I joined Sunderland Football Cub,” he said. “I always thought my experience, a year, two or three, however long it lasts, would make me better. The situation I am in is super tough, but it will still make me better.

“The only things I have ever achieved I have had to sacrifice things for and we are in hard times now. We have been written off as a hopeless case, fine, I am comfortable with that. A little adversity and let’s prove people wrong.”

He added: “If we let everyone dictate how we feel then we are weak, all of us. It’s up to all of us, no matter what has been said about us outside the group, that’s their opinion, but within our group we have to ensure we maintain a certain way of thinking. We have no choice to meet what is in front of us.

“We can’t sit around with gloomy faces, there’s enough people doing that so … there is only us who can change it and keep the fighting spirit. We had that Tuesday night.”