SUNDERLAND'S January recruit from Fiorentina will make his debut in tonight's Capital One Cup semi-final first leg with Manchester United.
Spanish left-back Marcos Alonso is starting ahead of Italian Andrea Dossena after receiving international clearance following his loan switch from Serie A.
Scotland striker Steven Fletcher has been recalled up front for the Black Cats and combative midfielder Lee Cattermole returns to midfield.
There is also some welcome news at the back where captain John O'Shea will line up alongside Wes Brown in the hope of keeping out their former club.
And if Sunderland are to gain the upperhand in the two-leg semi-final tonight then they will have to overcome a United team without Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Rio Ferdinand.
Red Devils boss David Moyes has made four changes to the team which was knocked out of the FA Cup against Swansea City on Sunday.
Sunderland: Mannone; Bardsley, Brown, O'Shea, Alonso; Cattermole; Borini, Larsson, Ki, Giaccherini; Fletcher. Subs: Gardner, Johnson, Celustka, Colback, Altidore, Ji, Dixon (gk).
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Januzaj, Giggs; Welbeck. Subs: Lindegaard (gk), Smalling, Hernandez, Fletcher, Kagawa, Büttner, Zaha