Alex McLeish believes Aston Villa striker Darren Bent will be unfazed by the hostile reception expected on his first return to Sunderland tomorrow.
McLeish is looking for a "big performance" from the England international and feels he can "hurt" his former team-mates at the Stadium of Light.
Bent angered many Sunderland supporters by making the £18 million move to Villa last January and he has since scored 12 goals in 23 games.
McLeish said: "We all know football and the way it is. I'm sure a lot of the Sunderland fans will remember Darren's prowess in front of goal with fond memories.
"But, when you leave a club to go somewhere else, fans see you as the enemy and that's their prerogative.
"Darren is experienced and mature enough to understand that is what happens in football.
"I'm sure he will take that and it won't faze him and his game and not affect him trying to score a goal past Sunderland. Bent is an England international, he has got a tough mentality.
"I will certainly be looking for a big performance from him. There is no reason why Darren can't go back and hurt his own team.
"But Sunderland will be trying equally as hard and they will be saying in that dressing room 'we can't let Benty score'."
McLeish revealed Bent is determined to put right his glaring first half miss against West Brom last weekend.
The Villa boss said: "Benty missed a good chance last week and right away in the dressing room took responsibility and held his hand up for it.
"He was smarting and said 'I just want another chance like that' and that is the type of guy he is.
"He tries to push it off like a piece of dandruff and will be in the very same position the next game. Darren has got that goal hungry type of attitude."
McLeish is looking for a positive response from his side after successive defeats against Manchester City and West Brom ended their unbeaten start in the league.
He said: "Sunderland will be confident. They had a great result last weekend (at Bolton). But equally you can look at Sunderland getting that result on the back of a couple of bad ones.
"There is no reason why we can't do the same thing. We've had a couple of reversals now.
"We were very frustrated at the way last week's result at West Brom unfolded.
"But it doesn't mean we can't go to Sunderland and get the points just as Sunderland did at Bolton last weekend with a terrific performance.
"They will be buoyed by their performance and victory but equally they will be aware that we have a big threat in our team as well."
On-loan Tottenham midfielder Jenas Jenas is finally fit and included in the squad while defender Alan Hutton has recovered from a head wound which required seven stitches.
But midfielder Barry Bannan is suspended while the club conduct an internal investigation after the Scot was arrested on suspicion of drink driving last weekend.