DAVID Meyler is set to make an unexpected appearance at centre-half this evening as Sunderland take on MK Dons in the third round of the Capital One Cup.
Martin O'Neill is without four senior centre-halves after John O'Shea and Titus Bramble joined Wes Brown and Carlos Cuellar on the injured list.
Neither player's injury is understood to be serious, but their absence has forced a major reshuffle that will see Meyler make a surprise appearance in the back four.
The Republic of Ireland international is usually a midfielder, but he is set to line up alongside Matt Kilgallon at Stadium MK.
In total, O'Neill has made five changes to the side that started Saturday's 1-1 draw with West Ham United.
Keiren Westwood replaces Simon Mignolet, James Vaughan comes into the midfield in place of Seb Larsson and Louis Saha gets the nod in attack with Steven Fletcher rested on the bench.
Adam Johnson is also named among the substitutes as he completes his recovery from a thigh injury.
MK DONS (4-2-3-1): McLoughlin; Chicksen, Williams, Kay, Lewington; Gleeson, Potter; Chadwick, Powell, Bowditch; Smith.
Subs: Burns (gk), Kouo-Doumbe, Macdonald, Lowe, Alli, O'Shea, Spence.
SUNDERLAND (4-4-1-1): Westwood; Gardner, Kilgallon, Meyler, Rose; Vaughan, Colback, Cattermole, McClean; Sessegnon; Saha.
Subs: Mignolet (gk), Egan, Johnson, Campbell, Wickham, Ji, Fletcher.