The summer signing from Celtic has been out of action with an ankle problem.
That poor run of form has taken its toll on former manager Dick Advocaat, who left the club after their most recent fixture against West Ham.
He has now been replaced by former Hammers boss Sam Allardyce - who is tasked with the seemingly implausible job of keeping everyone's fancied relegation tip away from the bottom three.
So how important could the return from injury of one of their summer signings prove to be?
The player in question is former Celtic defender Adam Matthews. The Welsh international has played just two games for Sunderland since arriving from Glasgow before picking up an injury. He has not played since August because of the ankle problem but featured for the under-21s on Monday night and is in contention to feature against West Brom this weekend.
So how helpful could he be to the cause?
It is hard to say, but Matthews is certainly an Allardyce player. A strong and committed player who is also dangerous going forward he would fit right in to Big Sam's plans. There is every chance he might even be asked to play at left-back - with Patrick van Aanholt on the ropes after a poor season so far.
Whatever the case the return of the defender cannot be bad news for Sunderland and hopefully he can have a positive impact on the shambles that has been their defence in recent weeks.