In taking charge of his first Tyne-Wear derby, Sunderland Head Coach Paolo Di Canio has opted to leave Titus Bramble at home after he continues to be "injured" while the other headline news is that Connor Wickham's knock picked up in the week has been enough to see him out of this one.
This means that responsibility for leading the attack falls on Danny Graham. Is it written that he could come up with a winner? It's certainly a make or break moment for the January arrival, and every move will be heavily scrutinised.
David Vaughan has returned to full fitness and takes a place on the bench as Paolo opts to put Seb Larsson into the centre of midfield, and bring in James McClean to the left hand side of midfield.
Jack Colback remains on the bench alongside youngsters Mickael Mandron and Jordan Laidler. Despite a good game against Chelsea, Matt Kilgallon also falls to the bench with Carlos Cuellar preferred.
Craig Gardner is suspended for this one having picked up a yellow card in the game against Chelsea last week.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Simon Mignolet; Phil Bardsley, John O'Shea, Carlos Cuellar, Danny Rose; Adam Johnson, Alfred N'Diaye, Seb Larsson, James McClean; Stephane Sessegnon, Danny Graham
Substitutes: Keiren Westwood, Kader Mangane, David Vaughan, Matt Kilgallon, Jack Colback, Mickael Mandron, Jordan Laidler.
Meanwhile on the opposite side Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has made a couple of changes as he welcomes back Mathieu Debuchy to full fitness at right-back, while the left back spot is filled by Jonas Gutierrez in preference to youngster Massimo Haidara.
Cheik Tiote also starts in midfield alongside Yohan Cabaye, while Moussa Sissoko and Yohan Gouffran will provide a second wave of attack behind Papiss Cisse.
Shola Ameobi is on the bench alongside Hatem Ben Arfa.
Newcastle United (4-5-1): Tim Krul; Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Steven Taylor, Jonas Gutierrez; Cheik Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko, Yohan Gouffran; Sylvain Marveaux, Papiss Cisse
Substitutes: Rob Elliot, James Perch, Massimo Haidara, Vurnon Anita, Hatem Ben Arfa, Adam Campbell, Shola Ameobi.