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.
"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," said McLeish.
"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."