STEVE Bruce has handed 20-year-old midfielder David Meyler a first ever senior start with the Sunderland resources looking stretched to the limit at Ewood Park this afternoon.

Daryl Murphy comes back into the starting line up with injuries to Kenwyne Jones and winger Andy Reid robbing Bruce of two of his most influential players. John Mensah has also failed to recover from a calf injury. The presence of Michael Liddle,Ryan Noble and Adam Reed on the Sunderland bench gives the squad a particularly youthful look.

Lorik Cana will captain the side and is expected to be part of a five man midfield with Fraizer Campbell and Murphy tasked to support Darren Bent.

Former Sunderland right-back Pascal Chimbonda starts for Sam Allardyce's side with El Hadji Diouf among the Rovers subs.

SUNDERLAND (4-5-1): Fulop; Bardsley, Nosworthy, Da Silva,McCartney;Campbell,Henderson,Cana,Murphy;Bent.

Substitutes: Carson(gk),Anderson,Healy,Zenden,Liddle,Reed,Noble.

BLACKBURN ROVERS (4-4-2): Robinson (gk); Chimbonda,Samba,Nelsen,Nzoni;Pedersen,Hoilett,Andrews;Givet;McCarthy,Roberts.

Substitutes: Brown(gk),Jacobsen,Diouf,Olsson,Kalinic,Di Santo,Salgado.