Steven Fletcher's fitness will be closely monitored as he attempts to make himself available to face Reading on Tuesday night.
The former Wolves striker missed Saturday's defeat to Chelsea, and manager Martin O'Neill is not confident that he will have recovered enough to make the bottom of the table Premier League clash.
"Fletcher's coming on a bit and he's less sore than he was. But I wouldn't be sure about tonight," O'Neill said on Tuesday.
"He did a little bit of training yesterday with the physios and there'll be a little bit again today. Obviously if Fletcher was fit, he'd give us a boost. But if it was going to cause irreparable damage, then it's not something you'd want to do."
The Sunderland boss will also be forced to decide where to employ youngster Danny Rose. The on-loan Tottenham full-back was repositioned to central midfield during the second half of Saturday's game, a position he seemed to relish and that his manager admits to having contemplated for some time.
"I think Danny Rose is an all-round player," O'Neill said. "He says himself that his confidence here is greater now than when he started with us. He feels as if he is capable of doing more for the team, which I always thought he was.
"I thought he sometimes kept that light under a bushel, now he's really progressing and it's great to see. He knows the crowd are very much with him and I believe in time he is capable of playing in a number of positions."
Meanwhile John O'Shea has issued a rallying call to his team-mates - asking them to be brave and show mental toughness when they face Reading.
"I know the onus will be on us tonight, but the players feel no matter who we're playing at home, it's up to us to put on a fantastic performance and try to win the game," O'Shea said.
"That will be the same tonight. There's added pressure and there'll be a lot of talk, but it's up to the players to get on the ball, show a bit of bravery and take people on. You need that bravery to get on the ball and show you're capable of playing football.
"We've got fantastic fans, but we need to give them something to get behind us and when we did that against Chelsea, they gave us fantastic support," added the 31-year-old.
"The attitude of the lads was good and rightly so. The fans pay their money and the least we should do is work hard and show a positive attitude to try to create goals.
The former Manchester United defender is also hoping to take the positives from Saturday into Tuesday's game - believing a shade of good fortune on Chelsea's part stopped the Black Cats from getting something out of the game. "On another day, one of those free-kicks goes screaming into the top corner, rather than Petr Cech saving it. And throughout the whole game, Johnno (Adam Johnson) gave Ashley Cole a very tough game.
"Another day, the luck would have fallen for him. We just need to keep working hard to make sure that happens."