Chris Coleman says he wants to give the FA Cup a real go, despite Sunderland’s struggles in the league.
The Black Cats were pulled out of the hat against rivals Middlesbrough when the third round draw was made on Monday night.
Sunderland are second-bottom of the Championship with Coleman’s main aim since taking over to help the club avoid successive relegations.
But the Welshman insists he won’t play a weakened team against Boro in the New Year.
He said: “We will be going there at our strongest and we will be going there to try and win the game.
“We want to progress in the cup competition.
“We have got to pick up in the league and progress as far as we can in the cup.
“We owe the fans, they keep coming to support us.”
The game sees Sunderland make the short trip down the A19 to take on their neighbours, a repeat of the clash last month in the league which saw Boro triumph 1-0.
“It is a great game for us,” Coleman added. “It is local, really. Well to be fair, no one is local for Sunderland. I have found that out. Everywhere is a three-hour drive.
“But no, it is a great game, I love the FA Cup. I loved it as a player and a manager.”