Bruce excited by the chance to unleash Gyan

Asamoah Gyan will make his first start for Sunderland tonight as his side host West Ham United in the Carling Cup and his manager, Steve Bruce, is excited about the prospect.

The 24-year-old Ghana international is trying to reach full match fitness following his post-World Cup lay-off but has already shown flashes of the form which persuaded Bruce to pay Rennes £13m last month.

"I know he is an outstanding prospect," Bruce said. "There was a time when Arsenal mishit a back pass on Saturday and you saw his blistering pace. He flew after it. He also has terrific power and he is good in the air, and he has got a great appetite for the game in terms of work rate.

"He is also a beast. I don't care who you are, if you are not right physically, you will find it tough in this league."

Gyan and the Dutch midfielder Bolo Zenden will both start against the Hammers, while there could be places for Andy Reid and Jack Colback too, although Bruce will field a strong team. "We will treat it with the respect it deserves, put out a team I hope is good enough to win and see where it takes us," Bruce added.

The West Ham manager, Avram Grant, admits he does not have the luxury of resting some of his first-team regulars. "We want to win any game – friendly games, league games and also in the Carling Cup – so we will go to this game and we want to be in the next round. But Valon Behrami [knee] got injured on Saturday and also Thomas Hitzlsperger is injured. So we won't have players resting."