SAFC v Liverpool

Gardner makes return

by Stuart Vose

Midfielder back following ban; Bardsley also starts.

Craig Gardner makes an immediate return from suspension for Sunderland at Aston Villa (KO 8pm).

The midfielder is back to face his former club, replacing James McClean, while Phil Bardsley is preferred to Jack Colback.

Both McClean and Colback are on the bench, along with youngster Mikael Mandron who is involved in the first-team squad once again.

Meanwhile, defender Carlos Cuellar plays as he returns to Villa Park for the first time since leaving the Midlands club last summer.

Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Rose, O'Shea (c), Cuellar, Gardner, N'Diaye, Larsson, Johnson, Sessegnon, Graham.

Subs: Westwood, Kilgallon, Colback, Vaughan, Mangane, McClean, Mandron.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar (c), Baker, Bennett, Westwood, Delph, Sylla, Weimann, Agbonlahor, Benteke.

Subs: Given, Holman, Lichaj, Bent, Bowery, N’Zogbia, Bannan.