ADAM Johnson’s poor Sunderland form has cost him his place in Roy Hodgson’s England squad.
But Martin O’Neill is hoping the Easington-born winger (left) just proves to be a slow starter at his new club.
The 25-year-old has been left out of the party to face Sweden on Wednesday. Johnson has been a pale imitation of the player O’Neill paid Manchester City £10m for.
He had been at the Stadium of Light little more than a week before picking up a thigh injury in training ahead of England’s 5-0 win over Moldova.
He returned to a Sunderland side low on confidence and unfortunately has not looked out of place. Manager O’Neill believes Johnson is still to fully come to terms with the whirlwind nature of his transfer, and hopes he proves to be the type of player who just needs time to settle at a new club.
“It has all hit him so very, very quickly here,” O’Neill reflected. “The injury knocked him back a bit although that is not a problem at the moment, touch wood, but honestly, he will eventually come good.
“I don’t know the early history of his time at Manchester City, it might have been the same thing I don’t know, but in time he will come good.”
Compounding matters for Johnson, Steven Fletcher who signed on the same day, has hit the ground running. He scored five goals in his first four Premier League games for the Black Cats.
Johnson was overlooked by Hodgson for this summer’s European Championships.
But with his transfer offering the prospect of the regular football he left City for, he started England’s first game this season, a friendly against Italy, and was named in the squad for World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.
In Johnson’s absence, Aaron Lennon started against San Marino and the Tottenham player has retained his place in the squad along with Theo Walcott, the uncapped Raheem Sterling and fit-again Ashley Young.
Hodgson’s interest in Liverpool teenager Sterling has perhaps been in part piqued by the fact he is eligible to play for Jamaica.
Then on loan at Sunderland from Manchester United, Danny Welbeck was fast-tracked by Fabio Capello when Ghana approached him.
It is more than two years since Johnson last started a competitive game for England – a 0-0 draw with Montenegro under Steve McClaren. His lack of first-team action cost him under Capello, and persuaded him to join Sunderland.
Sebastian Larsson, a rival for Johnson’s right-wing berth at the Stadium of Light, is in line to win his 50th cap in Stockholm after being named in Sweden’s squad.
Club-mate Simon Mignolet is expected to make a rare start for Belgium against Romania week, as Marc Wilmots experiments. The goalkeeper has been outstanding in his season’s Premier League.
Striker Connor Wickham has been named in England’s Under-21 squad, though on-loan left-back Danny Rose has been left out with Stuart Pearce also planning to experiment in Tuesday’s friendly at home to Northern Ireland.
Rose was at the centre of controversy when England qualified for the European Under-21 Championships this month, sent off in Serbia at the end of the game after being subjected to monkey chants.
Rose played in Sunderland’s next two games, but missed the Middlesbrough League Cup tie through injury, and was unable to win his place back at the weekend.
Meanwhile, midfielder David Meyler has joined Championship Hull City, managed by Steve Bruce, until January.
Despite making his Republic of Ireland debut this season, the 23-year-old’s only Black Cats appearance was in the League Cup at MK Dons.
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