John Mensah is ready to come back into the Premier League firing line as Sunderland aim to put Sunday's derby despair behind them.
Titus Bramble was sent off with the Blacks Cats 3-0 down at Newcastle and Sunderland's derby rivals went on to inflict a crushing 5-1 defeat.
Bramble's subsequent ban has opened the door for Mensah to re-establish himself in the starting line-up and the Ghana international is set for just his second league start this term at home to Stoke on Saturday.
The centre-half, 28 this month, suffered a hamstring injury early in the campaign and was kept out by the impressive form of Bramble and Michael Turner.
But the Lyon loanee was happy to bide his time as the Black Cats had been doing well until Sunday's derby drubbing.
"I am a team player so I have been happy to wait because I was happy the team was doing well," Mensah told the Sunderland Echo.
"I want the club to do well, so it doesn't matter about me. The team was getting good results and I was pleased for my team-mates because of that. But I am fit and when the manager needs me I will play.
"It is a stronger squad this season and the defence has good players. The manager will choose the best team and everyone accepts that.
"The next game is important, but every game for our fans is important and we always want to win for them."
Persistent back problems restricted Mensah to just 14 Premier League starts while on loan from Lyon last season, but he overcame them to have an
impressive World Cup, helping Ghana reach the quarter-finals.
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce gambled on a second loan deal and although that seemed to have backfired when Mensah was soon back in the treatment room, the defender insists his back condition is under control.
"My hamstring was a different injury to the problem I have had before," he said.
"I followed a special programme during the World Cup and it worked well for me. I still have that programme now and if I keep going with it I hope I can be fit for every game.
"I want to help Sunderland to finish higher in the Premier League than last season and I really believe that with God's help we can do that.
"We have good players and we can give the fans something to be proud of."