Tony Pulis should ring the changes after opting for a bizarre 5-4-1 shape in defeat to Liverpool at Anfield, featuring just one true winger and no Rory Delap. Captain Ryan Shawcross should return after completing his suspension for the red card picked up at Fulham.
Expect Kenwyne Jones to start up front with John Carew, with Ricardo Fuller – whose proposed move to Saturday's opponents fell through last month – likely to figure from the bench.
Possible starting XI: Begovic; Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Higginbotham; Pennant, Delap, Whitehead, Etherington; Carew, Jones.
Steve Bruce remains without striker Danny Welbeck, who will be absent until mid-to-late March after undergoing surgery to cure a hamstring injury.
Lee Cattermole is also expected to be absent, with an estimated return date of February 12 following his knee injury.
Bruce may opt for the same side that was beaten by Chelsea, when Kieran Richardson operated effectively as a second striker.
Possible starting XI: Gordon; Onouha, Bramble, Ferdinand, Bardsley; El Mohamady, Henderson, Malbranque, Sessegnon; Richardson; Gyan.
The old boys clubs
Stoke and Sunderland don't just share red and white striped shirts, but players too.
For several years Potters boss Pulis picked up the castaways from the Stadium of Light, with Liam Lawrence, Danny Higginbotham, Dean Whitehead and club record signing Kenwyne Jones all trading the north-east for the Midlands as Stoke built up a side for promotion to and then stability in the Premier League.
But last month the relationship was turned on its head as Bruce tried, ultimately in vein, to sign Stoke forwards Tuncay Sanli and Ricardo Fuller. The former eventually left for Wolfsburg while the latter was held onto after Icelandic outcast Eidur Gudjohnsen left the club on deadline day.
And how Bruce must wish he had picked up at least one of the Midlands side's tricky forwards, with Welbeck out for another month and Fraizer Campbell out until May, he is left with just Asamoah Gyan as an out-and-out forward.
Breaking the Britannia duck
Sunderland battered Stoke all out of shape when the sides met earlier in the season at the Stadium of Light.
That 2-0 victory saw Shawcross sent off for two bookable offences with Asamoah Gyan netting twice.
Bruce's side head to the Britannia with a strong away record. Despite winning just three times on the road, they're netting a goal a game on their travels, but have failed to score in their last two trips to the Potteries, where they have been beaten in the last two seasons.