Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has assured Steven Fletcher that he will not be employed as a lone striker this season.
The Scotland international has spent five months on the sidelines following ankle surgery, although he was named on the bench for Tuesday's 4-2 Capital One Cup victory over MK Dons.
The 26-year-old, a £12m signing from Wolves last summer, netted 11 goals for the Black Cats last season before his campaign was curtailed by injury in March.
Martin O'Neill often played him on his own up front, but Di Canio has insisted Fletcher will not be used in that role this season.
"I'm happy. I have always said I am happy, but I have to be really happy because he can join the team that can help him to be crucial, like he was," Di Canio said.
"Last year, his goals were very important, but he can be even more crucial and play in some way for his team-mates because he has got talent, he has got quality.
"In the way we want to play, even if we are only at the start of our season and the beginning of our project, we are going to play not with him alone up front and hope that he can do something.
"Our system, our mechanism, attacking football, especially at home many times, we are going to put the ball into the box.
"Even in a game that wasn't very good or perfect at Southampton, we arrived there, but two or three times the ball was there in the first half and we didn't have a killer instinct, something that he has got."
Fletcher will travel with the squad to Crystal Palace on Saturday evening, and Di Canio added: "If he is on the bench, he can be involved straight away because he is ready.
"But it doesn't mean he can't start on Saturday straight away. We will see, but anyway he will travel with us because now he is part of the squad and we are happy to have him back."