Middlesbrough will be without Gaston Ramirez, who is banned after being sent off in the 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth.
Martin Roon picked up an ankle injury in the same game while Victor Valdes and Grant Leadbitter remain out with respective rib and hamstring problems.
Sunderland are still without Sebastian Larsson, who is serving a suspension.
Bryan Oviedo is sidelined with a hamstring injury but Billy Jones should be fit after suffering concussion against West Ham earlier this month.
MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES
Steve Bower: “Pride would always be top of the list when Teesside meets Wearside, but given the current predicaments of both Middlesbrough and Sunderland, it takes on even greater significance in this fixture.
“Both need the greatest of great escapes to stay in the Premier League, but even going down fighting is looking less and less likely.
“Meanwhile, Sunderland’s over-reliance on Jermain Defoe was always going to catch up with them, and he’s now gone eight games without a goal.
“A derby win for either would – at least in the short term – lift some rock-bottom spirits.”
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY
Middlesbrough interim head coach Steve Agnew: “The players have fighting spirit and will continue to fight…
“We’ve got a huge challenge ahead but it’s still alive. We have Sunderland and we have to go into the game as positive as we can.”
- Sunderland are unbeaten on their last three league visits to Teesside (W1, D2).
- But their most recent league visit to Middlesbrough was back in January 2009, when Kenwyne Jones hit a late equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw for the Black Cats, who were then managed by current England boss Gareth Southgate.
- Middlesbrough are looking for their first Premier League win of 2017.
- Boro have scored just 13 goals at home in this season’s Premier League, the lowest tally in the top flight.
- They have played out seven 0-0 draws in the Premier League so far this season – the record in a single campaign is nine.
- Cristhian Stuani scored twice against Sunderland on his Boro debut in August but has added just three more in his subsequent 25 games.
- Sunderland have gone eight games without a win (D2, L6). They have picked up just two points from the last 24 available.
- The Black Cats have lost their last three away games without scoring.
- Jermain Defoe has scored 14 of Sunderland’s 26 league goals this season, but hasn’t found the net since the beginning of February, a run of eight games.
- Fabio Borini’s two Premier League goals this season have both come in the 90th minute.
|Most probable score: 1-0||Probability of draw: 35%|
|Probability of home win: 40%||Probability of away win: 25%|
SAM (Sports Analytics Machine) is a super-computer created by @ProfIanMcHale at the University of Salford that is used to predict the outcome of football matches.