The Scotland international, on loan from Spurs, is thought to have picked up an injury in training and Phil Bardsley should line up at right-back.
And with John Mensah missing, Anton Ferdinand has reverted from left-back into the middle and Kieran Richardson should fill the hole in the defence.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has resisted the temptation to throw Kenwyne Jones straight into the starting line-up and the striker is included on the bench. Fraizer Campbell partners Darren Bent in attack.
Liverpool, meanwhile, are arguably at their strongest, with Alberto Aquilani the unfortunate man to miss out, with Dirk Kuyt expected to partner Fernando Torres in attack.
LIVERPOOL(4-4-2): Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Insua; Maxi, Mascherano, Gerrard, Maxi; Torres, Kuyt. Subs: Cavalieri (gk), Aquilani, Benayoun, Kyrgiakos, Lucas, Ngog, El Zhar.
SUNDERLAND (4-4-2): Gordon; Bardsley, Turner, Ferdinand, Richardson; Henderson, Cattermole, Cana, Malbranque; Campbell, Bent. Subs: Carson (gk), Da Silva, Kilgallon, Benjani, Zenden, Jones, Liddle.