Simon Grayson says his players will be prepared for one of the toughest tests in the division when they take on Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City side.
The experienced boss has taken the Bluebirds to third in the league, with only goal difference separating them from Wolves and Leeds United.
Grayson is a big admirer of the often controversial boss and says he is a great “role model”.
“Anyone who knows Neil will know he has hard-working teams, they fight for each other, they’re strong at set-pieces,” he said.
“There are talented players there as well who have obviously gelled very quickly.
“Neil’s an experienced campaigner – I’ve got a lot of respect for him and he’s always been there for the younger managers when they were first starting out.
“So he’s a great role model, some people like him, some don’t,
“I certainly respect him and like his company.
“I’ll have a drink with him after the game and hopefully I’m talking about a hoodoo I’ve broken and he’s going back down disappointed.
“He always likes to have a group together quickly, he likes to have a good team spirit and players that work for each other and fight for each other, and that helps get consistency quite early.
“We didn’t have that luxury because players were coming in and out.
“When Neil first went to Cardiff he had a similar kind of problem because the club had financial problems, there were players who did want to be there and others who didn’t.
“There were some on too much money that he couldn’t get rid of, and he had to adapt the squad and it took a bit of time to do it.
“But now he has got things settled and it has begun to bear fruit.
“I know what to expect and I’m sure the players have played against Neil Warnock’s teams, so our players will be as prepared as they are for every game.”
Sunderland go into the game still searching for their first home win of 2017, and Grayson is eager to put talk of a hoodoo to bed on Saturday.
The Black Cats are currently enduring their second longest home winless league run in their entire historya grand total of 14 games.
“Of course you want to win in front of your own fans,” he said.
“The Stadium of Light can be an intimidating place for the oppositon if we can get it going – I’ve seen that for myself.
“What we have to do is do what is required to get this result, put it all to bed, and then get the stadium back to being a place where opposition sides feel insecure and inhibited.
“Over the last 10 months it has become a place where it has been easy for opposition sides to come and play.
“The players know their responsibility, they’ve sometimes got to make the supporters get on the edge of their seat and fully backing us.
“Do the right things and when it’s not going for you sometimes your supporters will be that little bit more patient.
“It’s about a two way thing where everyone is trying to get the same thing.
“We know some good play can take the roof of that ground, we’ve sampled it in parts this season, we want to make it that difficult place.”