The Serbia international has featured in just 11 games in 2012 after being hampered by knee injuries, and the Red Devils have conceded 23 goals in the Premier League already this season.
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United won that game to go six points clear at the top of the table, but have kept just three clean sheets in the league this season, as they look to wrestle the title back off their neighbours Manchester City.
“It would have been crazy to play him against City, but against Sunderland - definitely. It’s a big bonus,” Sir Alex told reporters.
“In the last 18 months he has only had 10 games or something - it is not many games that he has had.
“He is a battler, a real competitor, that uncompromising way of his. He likes defending, that’s what it is.”