LORIK CANA has been named Sunderland captain for this afternoon's Premier League fixture at Stoke City.
In the absence of Danny Collins, who has been the subject of interest from today's opponents, the Albanian midfielder will wear the armband, in what offers an insight into manager Steve Bruce's long-term thinking.
Collins has been included on the bench, as has Grant Leadbitter who has had talks with Ipswich Town after a bid was agreed in midweek.
Goalkeeper Craig Gordon retains his place following his positive performance at Norwich in the Carling Cup, while Nyron Nosworthy replaces Collins at the back.
For Stoke, meanwhile, neither Tuncay Sanli nor Robert Huth start following their moves from Middlesbrough. Former Sunderland midfielder Dean Whitehead joins them among the substitutes.
STOKE CITY (4-4-4): Sorensen; Wilkinson, Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham; Lawrence, Delap, Whelan, Etherington; Fuller, Kitson. Subs: Simonsen, Griffin, Huth, Pugh, Cresswell, Whitehead, Tuncay.
SUNDERLAND (4-4-2): Gordon; Bardsley, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, McCartney; Malbranque, Cana, Cattermole, Richardson; Bent, Jones. Subs: Carson, Campbell, Collins, Henderson, Leadbitter, Reid, Da Silva.
* Sunderland have been paired at home with Birmingham City in the third round of the Carling Cup.