Fabricio Coloccini is set to miss the Tyne-Wear derby following his injury on international duty, according to ESPN.
Coloccini's absence leaves Newcastle manager Alan Pardew struggling for centre-backs, as Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa misses the tie after his red this weekend.
The defender was dismissed after he pulled down Liverpool's Luis Suarez, and Pardew is now left sweating on the fitness of Steven Taylor.
It leaves the Magpies with just Mike Williamson as their only fully-fit centre-half for one of the season's most important fixtures, however, Pardew is confident that Taylor will return.
"We think Steven's going to be okay," Pardew said in the Evening Chronicle. "He was touch and go to train last week but we just held him back.
"Colo definitely won't be available for Sunderland."
Whilst Newcastle struggle for centre-backs, rivals Sunderland are struggling full stop.
Despite replacing Paolo Di Canio with Gus Poyet, Sunderland still look destined for relegation, with Poyet's first game in charge ending in a 4-0 defeat.
And Poyet is realistic about his side's chances this season, insisting his team need to start improving now.
“I don’t want to exaggerate when I look ahead to the game,” he told the Sunderland Echo. “I don’t want to say we have got time -- you can’t say that. But I don’t want to go the other way and say this is a final, and build it up that way.
“At the end of the day, it is about winning a football game. And it needs to be now. In Spanish, we say it needs to be yesterday -- not tomorrow, now! Then we go from there. It’s a great opportunity for us, though. Can we do it? I believe we can and this week we are going to work as hard as possible to make it so.
“We’ve been trying to build confidence from day one, and I thought that we were better in those terms. The team was already different under [former caretaker manager] Kevin Ball and I hoped we had moved another step forward doing our things.
“But, at the end of the day, what matters is Saturday, three o’clock. It doesn’t matter about Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. It doesn’t matter what people say, or what they think."
The sides meet at the Stadium of Light on Sunday and Poyet will be looking to claim their first win of the season in the North-East derby.