David Moyes will have to do without Jan Kirschhoff for the game against Manchester United on Boxing Day and a few months after that, with the midfielder undergoing knee surgery following a serious injury. Jose Mourinho, though, has very little injury worries going into the Premier League match at Old Trafford, with Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan set for a return.
Moyes makes his own return to Old Trafford for the first time since his ill-fated spell as Manchester United manager, and there is little doubt that he will want nothing more than a big win over his former club. Sunderland have definitely improved as a team and are looking capable of escaping the relegation zone, even if, at the moment, they remained mired in the bottom three.
Kirschhoff will not be available to help them for the foreseeable future, after the German underwent surgery on his knee following an injury picked up in the loss to Chelsea earlier this month.
"Jan had an operation during the week to repair his lateral meniscus," Moyes said. "At the moment we think it'll be close to 12 weeks."
On their way back, however, are Javier Manquillo, Billy Jones and Steven Pienaar, who are all in training and could be in contention for the Manchester United match. Jack Rodwell, Lee Cattermole, Paddy McNair, former Manchester United defender and Duncan Watmore are all long-term absentees.
Mourinho will hope this game turns out to be a fourth straight Premier League win for his club, with Manchester United in fairly rude health in terms of injuries as well. The defensive problems seem to be behind them in more ways than one and Mkhitaryan, who was in great form before injury stopped the momentum in the game against Tottenham, soon after he scored the winner, is also expected to be in the matchday squad.
"Chris Smalling is back, Eric Bailly is back, Phil Jones is fine, Marcos Rojo is fine, Daley Blind is fine, so it's a position where it's very important to have some stability in the options," Mourinho said of his defence. "We were in a difficult position a couple of months ago but now we are safe.
"The squad is good," Mourinho explained during an interview with MUTV on Friday afternoon. "We don't have many injuries. Even the Luke Shaw injury is coming to an end. We are fine. People are happy."
Even with Bailly back, though, Mourinho is expected to stick to the same back four considering how well Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones have played together in the centre.
Confirmed starting XI: Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Blind; Carrick, Herrera, Pogba, Mata, Ibrahimovic, Lingard.
Sunderland: Pickford; Jones, Kone, Djolobodji, Van Aanholt; Larsson, Ndong, Denayer, Borini; Defoe, Anichebe.