Capital One Cup tie, as they prepare to welcome Middlesbrough to the Stadium of Light.
O’Neill told the Shields Gazette: “I’ll make one or two changes tonight but it’s still a game we’re taking very, very seriously.
“The cup is very important to us and the fans and we want to progress. On the horizon is the prospect of a quarter-final awaiting the winners of this tie.
“And I’m sure Middlesbrough will be thinking the same as ourselves – which is that getting to that stage of the competition would be an achievement in itself.”
The Sunderland boss hopes that the match will kickstart the Black Cats’ season, which has stuttered since August.
He said: “We’ve had a stop-start season so far. But we have now reached this period in which we’re capable of putting a run together and that’s what we’re looking to do between now and Christmas – starting with this cup tie.”
Sunderland’s last game was a 0-0 draw with Stoke at the weekend, the sixth draw they have had this season.