United will feel they need to become just the third away side to win at the Stadium of Light this season if they are to keep their hopes of lifting the league crown once again alive.
However, the Black Cats crept into 10th place as a result of their 1-0 victory at Hull last weekend, and are desperate not to relinquish a position they set as their aim back in August.
Skipper Cana said: "Everybody wants to finish in this position because it's a massive step forward for the club if you compare it to recent seasons.
"But it's going to be hard. Stoke have still got three games left, so it's going to be really, really hard.
"But we want to be in this kind of position and this is definitely the kind of game we want to play.
"For people who think Sunderland have got nothing to play for now and are not going to play 100% against Manchester United, that's definitely not the case because we are motivated 300% and we want to win this game."
Cana, a £5million summer signing from Marseille, was one of the men drafted in during another healthy spending spree as owner Ellis Short and chairman Niall Quinn sought to end an annual scrap for survival.
Despite a mid-season slump, which saw the Wearsiders go 14 league games without a win, they are on target for their first top-half top-flight finish since the Peter Reid era with two games remaining.
The 26-year-old Albanian said: "You always get what you deserve, so if you are 10th, it is because you deserve it and have got the points.
"Now it is going to be really, really hard until the end of the season. We have two tough games - the home game against Manchester United, who are in the race for the title, and another game away at Wolves.
"It's definitely going to be hard, but it is better to be in this position than to be near the relegation zone.
"But the job is not finished yet and we must be concentrated and 100% ready for these two games and try to finish in this position, which was the club's goal at the start of the season.
"If we can, it's a fantastic thing for the club; if not, it's still going to be a decent season for us."
Cana has proved a big hit on Wearside in his first season with his combative style having made him a favourite with the club's supporters, if not referees.
He suffered a slump in form around the turn of the year and Lee Cattermole's injury problems have interrupted their blossoming partnership.
Cana admits the going has been tough at times, but has enjoyed his introduction to English football.
He said: "I just tried to play my game with my mentality and in this country when you have a mentality like that, people will appreciate that.
"Sometimes you can play well and sometimes you can play not really well - sometimes, it's really hard.
"But if people know you have got the right mentality, they always support you until the end."
Full-back Alan Hutton is suspended despite having his ban for being dismissed at Hull reduced from three games to one, but John Mensah and Lee Cattermole have a chance of shaking off hamstring and calf injuries respectively.