As expected, Titus Bramble starts as captain in place of the injured Nedum Onuoha, while Lee Cattermole is replaced by Kieran Richardson. Steed Malbranque comes in for Asamoah Gyan who drops to the bench.
For Blackburn, Steve Kean has made three changes from the team that beat West Bromwich Albion 3-1 in midweek.
Mark Bunn starts in goal in place of the injured Paul Robinson, while Gael Givet replaces the suspended Michel Salgado in defence.
Nikola Kalinic begins the first of a three-match suspension and David Hoilett starts in his place.
Former Sunderland loanee Benjani starts from the bench.
SUNDERLAND (4-4-2): Gordon; Elmohamady, Ferdinand, Bramble, Bardsley; Malbranque, Meyler, Henderson, Richardson; Welbeck, Bent. Subs: Mignolet (gk), Angeleri, Da Silva, Riveros, Gyan, Cook, Zenden.
BLACKBURN (4-5-1): Bunn; Emerton, Nelsen, Hanley, Olsson; EH Diouf, Dunn, Givet, Hoillett, Pedersen; M Diouf. Subs: Fielding (gk), Linganzi, Doran, Benjani, Goulon, Morris, Lowe.
Referee: Mike Dean.