Sunderland are still short of strikers having lost Darren Bent to Aston Villa and both Danny Welbeck and Frazier Campbell are suffering from long-term injuries.
The Black Cats will also be missing David Meyler and Michael Turner who remain sidelined although influential midfielder Lee Cattermole could make a return.
Stephane Sessegnon is in line to make his debut, but Sulley Muntari is unavailable as he still requires a visa.
Possible starting XI: Gordon; Onouha, Bramble, Ferdinand, Bardsley; Malbranque, Henderson, Sessegnon, Cattermole, Richardson; Gyan.
Chelsea will continue to be without long-term absentees Yuri Zhrikov and Yossi Benayoun, but both Alex and Frank Lampard are nearing a return and could feature.
Having looked to have finally hit some form in their last Premier League match in which they demolished Bolton Wanderers 4-0, Carlo Ancelotti may be tempted to stick with the same team.
Possible starting XI: Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Mikel, Essien; Malouda, Anelka, Drogba.
Battle for Europe
Both Sunderland and Chelsea are battling hard to be a part of European competition next year with the sides being in sixth and fourth positions respectively.
Chelsea of course will see not making the Champions League as an abject failure whereas if Bruce can guide his team to a Europa League spot he will be very pleased with his year’s work.
Despite the difference in ambitions, only four points separate the two clubs and in fact Chelsea have lost one more game than the Black Cats who have only lost five of their 24 matches so far, unfortunately for them they have drawn ten.
No matter what the result, Chelsea seem set to remain in fourth place, whereas Sunderland could overtake Tottenham with a win and move into fifth, one point behind the Blues. Chelsea will be doing everything in their power to avoid this and exact revenge for their 3-0 loss at home in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
Attack vs defence
Sunderland have only conceded four goals in their last five games, while Chelsea have notched up 14 in their last five outings. Something’s got to give as the away side’s re-invigorated strike force can only continue their good form at the expense of Sunderland’s water-tight defence suddenly becoming porous.
The Black Cats have already picked up four red cards this season, and they will have to curb their tempers if they are going to prevent the men from Stamford Bridge breaking through their ranks.