The former Smog Monster says the usual frenetic build-up to the derby has been more subdued this time around after being overshadowed by events elsewhere.
The January transfer window will slam shut at 11pm on Friday, less than 14 hours before kick-off, while the trip to Tyneside will be Sunderland’s fifth game inside 15 days.
The midfielder has been subject of a £5m bid from Stoke City (who Sunderland play tonight) – so there was no guarantee he would be at the Wearside club come the derby.
Lee Cattermole: “The derby hasn’t really been mentioned.
“I haven’t even given it a thought because there’s that many games and you’ve got to keep preparing for the next one.
“But it’ll come around and it will be another special day for everybody and we’ve been doing well in that fixture recently.
“We’ve got to go again tonight and straight into the derby after that. It’s all go.
“But when you’re a team playing well, that’s what you want.
“We seem to be doing better away from home at the moment, but we came back against Southampton, who are a very good team."