COMMENT By Will Butcher
A little over a decade ago, Newcastle against Leeds would have been a hotly-contested fixture at the top end of the Premier League.
Now, a first sell-out in six years at Elland Road is set to play witness to one of the biggest matches of the Championship season on Sunday, as Newcastle look to strengthen their position at the top.
The two sides have a history of competing in the transfer market throughout their history, which has seen them conduct business together.
As the two in-form Championship sides prepare for Saturday’s top-six encounter, here is our best XI of players that have featured for both the Toon and the Yorkshire giants.
Admittedly, it is difficult to find a goalkeeper that has played for both sides. Despite that, former Birmingham City stalwart Ian Bennett was on the books at Newcastle in the early nineties before playing four league games for Leeds during the 2005-06 season.
Newcastle trainee Paul Huntington broke into the Toon side as an 18-year-old, before transferring to Leeds where injury prevented him to just 32 games in three years. Similarly to his two defensive counterparts, Andy O’Brien and Jonathan Woodgate’s careers were both havocked by injury.
Woodgate, a Champions League defender with Leeds, Newcastle and Real Madrid, is considered one of the best defenders in Leeds’ history while O’Brien last played for MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps.
Despite being a flying winger at Elland Road, Lee Bowyer failed to recapture his goalscoring exploits with the Toon and is remembered most for his punch up with teammate Kieron Dyer. Versatile Liverpool star James Milner fills the other flank, and is the most decorated player in the side with two Premier League titles and an FA Cup winners’ medal.
The late Gary Speed is a legend in the hearts of both Leeds and Newcastle fans following 597 appearances combined for both sides, while combative midfielder David Batty would sit alongside him in an impressive midfield quartet.
A front three likely to be more synonymous with their time in Yorkshire, Mark Viduka would spearhead an attack that also boasts Michael Bridges and Alan Smith.
Australia international Viduka scored 72 goals for Leeds during four years in Yorkshire, but managed only seven goals on Tyneside. It is a similar story with both Smith and Bridges, who found the net a lot more prolifically with Leeds.
Suffering a horrific injury for Manchester United, Smith was converted into a holding midfielder for the Toon while Bridges featured for Newcastle during a loan spell in 2004.
In other Newcastle news, this young star is set for a delayed spell on the sidelines.