While the Black Cats have gone from strength to strength in the Premier League under Martin O'Neill, Boro have seen their attempts to gain promotion from the Championship falter.
Nicklas Bendtner is out for Sunderland following facial injuries picked up in last weekend's win over Swansea City, but Fraizer Campbell could be in line for a return to the squad from long-term injury.
Kevin Thomson and Julio Arca are both suspended for Tony Mowbray's side, while Danny Coyne could keeps his place in goal despite Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Coventry City.
Sunderland: Mignolet; Bardsley, Brown, O'Shea, Richardson; Cattermole, Larsson, Gardner, Sessegnon; McClean, Wickham
Middlesbrough: Coyne; Hoyte, Bennett, Bates, Williams; Robson, Haroun, Martin, Smallwood; McDonald, Emnes
Sports Mole says: 2-0