LUKAS Jutkiewicz is in line to make his Middlesbrough debut in Sunday’s FA Cup derby clash at Sunderland.
The 22-year-old was unable to make his bow against former club Coventry City last weekend because of a “gentleman’s agreement” between the two managers, Tony Mowbray and Andy Thorn.
But Jutkiewicz (pictured) – who signed a four-and-a-half-year deal at Boro last week – is not cup-tied from his time at the Ricoh Arena and is therefore free to face the Black Cats in the televised fourth-round tie.
“It’s a great game to play in,” he said. “And hopefully I’m involved.
“There are going to be a lot of fans there in a top stadium and it should be a brilliant atmosphere to play in.
“I’m not cup-tied, thankfully, but I’ll have to see what the manager wants to do.”
There is a strange symmetry regarding the identity of Boro’s opponents.
Jutkiewicz’s sole Premier League outing for former club Everton came against Sunderland in December, 2008.
He recalled: “I made one sub appearance in the Premier League when I was a teenager at Everton and it was against Sunderland, funnily enough.
“We won 3-0 and I got a few touches and did OK.
“I hope that’s a good omen.”
Boro chief Mowbray will also be glad to have Jutkiewicz at his disposal after a run of three straight Championship defeats.
The 3-1 reverse at bottom club Coventry saw Kevin Thomson and Julio Arca red-carded, and they will now miss the Stadium of Light tie.
And, on the agreement not to play Jutkiewicz against the Sky Blues, Mowbray said: “You live and die by those decisions. I had a conversation with Andy 10 days ago when the deal was done and that was that.
“But Lukas is with us for four and a half years and not one week.
“He’s a player at a good age with a lot if improvement left in him.
“I’m sure the fans are looking forward to seeing him in action again, as are we.
“He’ll bring something different to the team and I’m sure defenders will not like playing against him, which is what we need.”