Roy Keane is set to hand Kenwyne Jones his first start of the season away at Chelsea this weekend.
The Black Cats travel to Stamford Bridge on Saturday looking to inflict a second consecutive home defeat on the Blues.
They face a tough ask as Luiz Felipe Scolari's side remain among the Premier League front-runners, but will welcome the return of their most potent attacking weapon.
Trinidad & Tobago international Jones has stepped off the bench in Sunderland's last two top-flight fixtures, but is in line to be awarded his first start in five months as Keane plans a West London raid.
"Kenwyne's been a big plus because he looks sharp both going forward and defensively," said the Black Cats boss.
"The lad's really making it hard for me to leave him out. How close is he to a start? A couple of days."
Meanwhile, one of those hoping to force his way back into the fold this weekend is full-back Pascal Chimbonda.
The Frenchman was left out of the midweek defeat at Stoke after turning up late to training on Tuesday.
It is the second time this season the former Tottenham man has been disciplined for his poor time-keeping, with Keane refusing to see his authority undermined.
"There's stuff I won't tolerate but there's stuff I'll turn a blind eye to now - like Pascal wearing gloves," added the Irish coach.