The North East outfit can reach the quarter-finals of the competition if they overcome Middlesbrough in a home tie this evening.
"The game offers the chance to reach the quarter-finals of the competition, which in itself should be a big incentive for both teams," said O'Neill. "Then you've got the fact that it's a derby game. Of course we'd like to progress."
Meanwhile, Premier League outfits Arsenal, Aston Villa, Southampton, Wigan Athletic and Reading are all in League Cup action this evening.