Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland side are bidding to improve on a record that has seen them take only three wins at home in the league all season. Coupled with their shaky away form, it is no wonder the Black Cats currently only sit four points outside the relegation zone. However, visitors West Ham are on a relatively poor run of their own after an initial successful return to the Premier League and will be hit after the concession of a late equaliser to Manchester United in last week’s FA Cup tie at Upton Park.
Sunderland will be without defensive duo Carlos Cuellar and Danny Rose due to hamstring injuries, while John O’Shea and attacker Stephane Sessegnon are both doubtful. Recent signing Alfred N’Diaye is still awaited on international clearance and thus might have to wait before making his debut for the club.
For the Hammers, Andy Carroll remains absent through injury while Modibo Maiga is at the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving Carlton Cole battling with potential debutant Maroaune Chamakh for the lone striking role. Joe Cole, who impressed with two assists against Manchester United last week is set to retain his place just behind the striker.
Elsewhere, George McCartney and Mohamed Diame miss out with knee and hamstring injuries respectively while Joey O’Brien’s hamstring complaint makes him a potential doubt.