Whitehead, who arrived at the Britannia Stadium last July after five years with the Black Cats, finally opened his Potters account against Arsenal in the FA Cup fourth round.
The 28-year-old clinched an impressive 3-1 victory by converting Matthew Etherington's cross four minutes from time, and Pulis feels Whitehead was long overdue a goal to reward his improving performances.
He has been a midfield player who has scored goals on a regular basis,'' Pulis said.
Before the game we had a chat with him about getting in there and scoring goals.
He had been unlucky he could have had five or six goals next to his name. He could have had a hat-trick at Blackburn (in November), so the chances have been there.
It took him a while to settle into what we want and what we didn't want, he said.
He is more confident and more settled. His energy levels are absolutely fantastic and he has just dropped into the groove really now.
He wants to get forward.
He has played on the right side at times even at the end of the game (last Sunday) where he gets his goal he is playing on the right.
He enjoys it because there is lots of grass out there and he likes covering the grass.'' Whitehead is one of several Stoke players returning to their former club this evening as the Potters travel to the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland have endured a poor run of late, with a 7-2 hammering at Chelsea and 2-0 defeat at Everton extending their winless run to nine league matches, but Pulis expects Steve Bruce's players will be looking to bounce back.
We have got (Liam) Lawrence going back, (Rory) Delap going back, Whitehead, (Danny) Collins, (Danny) Higginbotham quite a few of the players who have had times up there, and enjoyed their times up there as well,'' Pulis said.
Irrespective of what they (Sunderland) have done or haven't done, it's going to be a tough game.
They have had two poor results away from home and Steve would have really got into them.
He's a manager who has lots of experience and we're expecting a very tough game on Monday night.''