Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce is confident of being able to avoid a giant-killing act and set up a third visit of the season to the Stadium of Light.
Rovers take on non-league Blyth Spartans at Croft Park tonight for the right to meet Sunderland in the fourth round of the FA Cup later this month.
Honours have been shared so far between Blackburn and their Premier League rivals.
Sunderland won 2-1 at Ewood Park in November but were held to a goalless draw at the Stadium of
Light on Boxing Day while Rovers won 2-1 in the Carling Cup.
Before Blackburn can contemplate a fourth meeting with Sunderland, however, they must first avoid slipping up on a potential banana skin.
Blyth were beaten 3-0 at Gateshead in their latest match on New Year’s Day to remain second bottom of the Blue Square North table but, with victories over Coca-Cola League Two clubs Shrewsbury and Bournemouth already, energies have clearly been focused on the cup.
“It’s the third round of the FA Cup and it’s always a big occasion for the smaller clubs,” said Allardyce.
“It’s my responsibility – and it’s the players’ responsibility – to go out with a very professional attitude to make sure that we get the result that we’re looking for.”