Alex McLeish is backing Darren Bent to take the frosty reception that awaits him at Sunderland in his stride and 'hurt' his former employers.
Bent returns to Wearside this weekend for the first time since completing an £18million move to Aston Villa in January 2011.
Sunderland were sad to see the England striker leave, with his departure leaving them short on firepower and Bent has gone on to underline his worth at Villa, netting 12 goals in 23 games.
McLeish is delighted to have the hot-shot striker on his side and expects him to put in a 'big performance' at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
He said: "We all know football and the way it is. I'm sure a lot of the Sunderland fans will remember Darren's prowess in front of goal with fond memories.
"But, when you leave a club to go somewhere else, fans see you as the enemy and that's their prerogative.
"Darren is experienced and mature enough to understand that is what happens in football.
"I'm sure he will take that and it won't faze him and his game and not affect him trying to score a goal past Sunderland. Bent is an England international, he has got a tough mentality.
"I will certainly be looking for a big performance from him. There is no reason why Darren can't go back and hurt his old team.
"But Sunderland will be trying equally as hard and they will be saying in that dressing room 'we can't let Benty score'."
Villa have suffered back-to-back defeats in the Premier League against Manchester City and West Brom and McLeish is looking for all of his players to raise their game in what promises to be a keenly-fought contest with the Black Cats.
He said: "Sunderland will be confident. They had a great result last weekend (at Bolton). But equally you can look at Sunderland getting that result on the back of a couple of bad ones.
"There is no reason why we can't do the same thing. We've had a couple of reversals now.
"We were very frustrated at the way last week's result at West Brom unfolded.
"But it doesn't mean we can't go to Sunderland and get the points just as Sunderland did at Bolton last weekend with a terrific performance.
"They will be buoyed by their performance and victory but equally they will be aware that we have a big threat in our team as well."