Grant McCann expects Sunderland to be a different proposition to the side Hull City faced earlier in the season.
The Tigers’ first game of the 2020/21 campaign came away to the Black Cats in the Carabao Cup first round, with McCann’s men winning 5-4 on penalties after a goalless draw.
Hull City sit second in League One heading into Saturday’s rearranged trip to the Stadium of Light, nine points ahead of the 11th-placed Wearsiders.
Since the last meeting, Lee Johnson has replaced Phil Parkinson in the Mackems dugout and introduced a new playing style, masterminding an impressive 4-0 thrashing of leaders Lincoln.
McCann believes Sunderland will be in the promotion shake-up come May but says his team will travel in good heart after last week’s comfortable 2-0 win over Charlton.
“It’s a different Sunderland in terms of the way they play, their style of play, to the one we played in the EFL Cup game at the Stadium of Light,” said McCann.
“It’s a different manager, a different way of playing, a different style.
“We came up against Lee Johnson last year at Bristol City. I played against Lee numerous times over my career.
“Although he’s still a young manager, he’s had a hell of a lot of games and done really well at all of the clubs he’s been at. I’ve got huge respect for him.
“I feel it’s going to be another good game. They’re a team I firmly expect to be in the mix come the end of the season.
“I think they’ll get stronger in January with the recruitment they may do, but they’ve also got a good team at this present time. They’ve got players who can hurt you in a heartbeat if you’re not right.
“We’ve got to take the confidence from the game against Charlton, go there with a spring in our step and see if we can come away with the three points.”