The Italian was appointed as Martin O'Neill's replacement earlier in the week after the Northern Irishman was dismissed following a string of poor performances by the team.
But even before his first game in charge, there has already been controversy surrounding the former Swindon boss with both his aggressive management style and alleged fascist beliefs called into question.
However, England international Johnson has made it clear that both he and the squad are looking forward to working with the Premier League legend.
"Everybody is very excited," he told the Daily Mirror.
"I think he's probably going to get the best out of the lads and I think he demands the best and obviously we've got to work so hard. That's probably what we need.
|DI CANIO DRIVEN TO SUCCEED - AVB
|20/1||sunderland are 20/1 with bet365 to beat Chelsea 1-0
"Any time a new manager comes in, people are a little bit stand-off and you don't know how to react.
"Everything happens so quickly. One day you turn up and a new manager turns up. It's difficult, but I'm sure over the course of time everything will fit into."
Johnson is hoping the Sunderland squad can draw on the confidence and faith Di Canio shows in his players when they take on Chelsea on Sunday, the first of many tough games that awaits the Black Cats in the run-in.
"I think he's a confident manager. He wants his players to feel like the best players in the world," he continued.
"That's a good thing. When players are full of confidence they're going to play well. Hopefully we can take that into Sunday.
"It's a tough game and a big game, but hopefully we can go there and play. Hopefully, the pressure isn't on us to go there and win.
"Chelsea are a top team and we're just in transition now but I think the confidence the manager is going to put into us and that he has is hopefully going to take us to the next level and we'll be able to go to Chelsea and go with a winning mentality.
"I think there's always a reaction for players when a new manager comes in to prove to the new gaffer that they deserve a place.
"That'll be no different. We're still the same players who were here before with the old gaffer, so we've got to try and do something different.
"Hopefully, the new manager will do that for us."