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Johnson’s Cats switch enhances Lions chances – O’Neill
DESPITE Adam Johnson ’s withdrawal from the England squad through injury, Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill believes that in the long term, the attacking midfielder’s decision to swap Manchester City for Sunderland will give him the ideal chance to enhance his international career.
The Sunderland winger had a scan yesterday after picking up a minor thigh injury, and has returned to his club for treatment, and will not feature in Friday’s Group H match in Moldova or Tuesday’s home game against Ukraine.
In the past, being based in the North-East hasn’t always helped players with international ambitions, something that was signified by former England boss Fabio Capello’s unwillingness to take in games on Tyneside or Wearside during his four-year reign.
However, with Roy Hodgson now in the hot-seat, things could be looking up for the likes of Johnson and the 25-year-old admitted his £10m move to the Stadium of Light plus the opportunity to work under O’Neill would only benefit his international career.
The Black Cats boss has already been impressed by the former Middlesbrough trainee’s performances and revealed Johnson’s admission was good news for the club.
“That is a turn up for the books and very pleasing to hear he is coming here to try and he will get the chance to play and to prove himself.
“You would not want to be throwing incredible accolades at him after two games, but he is a joy to watch.”
When Johnson is doubtlessly selected for England again in the future, it won’t be the first time O’Neill has seen one of his wingers get the chance to impress at international level.
The likes of Steve Guppy, Ashley Young and Stuart Downing have all played for England under the former Leicester City and Celtic manager, who admits having wingers capable of causing problems is must in any of his teams having been a right-sided midfielder himself.
In recent years, the Black Cats have perhaps lacked quality in wide positions, but with Johnson and James McClean at his disposal, O’Neill has players capable of making things happen in the final third.
“As a winger I was delighted for Adam (to be included in the England squad.) “Throughout my time – starting with Steve Guppy back at Wycombe who ended up playing for England, which was some achievement considering we had Davie Carroll on the other wing who was a better player but spent too much time at the bookies; from Celtic and to Downing and Young at Villa – I’ve had good wingers. It is not just excitement for me but they can create things for the team.”
The arrival of Johnson and Steven Fletcher has undoubtedly lifted the mood on Wearside and although he is fearful of picking up injuries, O’Neill feels his squad is better equipped to cope than it was last season.
He said: “I am delighted with the talent we have been able to bring in, but every manager is concerned you lose two or three and look round and see squad is not strong enough “Every club gets injuries and you have to cope with, but you would be concerned more about numbers now we have some quality in.
“All these things are dependent on players staying fit which is a problem because we maybe don’t have strong back-up but that is not going to happen.
“Once the deadline ends that is it and if you pick up three or four injuries you are back to last year but certainly we are better equipped than last year and I genuinely feel we are a threat and that is good news and on both sides and we can combine and it should be a good time.”
Ticket details for Sunderland’s Captial One third round tie at MK Dons have been released.
O’Neill takes his side to the Stadium:MK on Tuesday, 25 September (7:45pm kick-off) and tickets will go on sale tickets for the fixture will go on general sale from 9.00am on Monday, September 10.
A two-tier tickets pricing system is in place as follows: Season card holders: Adults £13, Over 65s £8, Under 21s £8 and Under 18s £1 Non-season card holders: Adults £15, Over 65s £10, Under 21s £15 and Under 18’s £1.