Johnson takes Sunderland axe on the chin

Adam Johnson.

Adam Johnson.

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ADAM JOHNSON insists he had no issue with Gus Poyet over being dropped for the first time in his Sunderland career.

Johnson was relegated to the bench for Sunderland’s defeat at Hull City earlier this month before being introduced as a half-time substitute after the Black Cats were reduced to nine men just before the interval.

Other than missing two games through injury in the early days of his Sunderland career, the 26-year-old has been an ever present in the starting XI since arriving in a £10million deal from Manchester City in the summer of 2012.

But Johnson says he understood head coach Poyet’s decision and has been immediately restored to the side anyway; helping Sunderland to back-to-back Stadium of Light victories over Southampton and Manchester City.

Johnson told the Echo: “I spoke to the manager and I was fine with it. I understood.

“You’ve got to respect his decision and I was totally fine with that. Maybe it was a kick up the backside, but I didn’t really feel like I needed it!

“It was the manager’s decision and I’m back in the team now.

“I’ve only missed a half of football since I’ve been here so I wasn’t too disappointed.”

Victory over Johnson’s former club, Man City, has left Sunderland within three points of fourth bottom Stoke City, with the Black Cats looking to draw level with the Potters at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

And Johnson says there has been a buoyant mood around the Academy of Light during the fortnight’s international break, with Sunderland rallying after a disastrous start to the campaign which saw them take just one point from the opening eight games.

“Now we’re back in touching distance,” said the England international. “If we can get another three or four points over the next few games, people won’t be writing us off again.

“There’s so much more football to be played. We didn’t get carried away by where we were at the beginning of the season.

“We’re still in a bit of trouble, but it looks a lot better now.

“The two home wins before Man City lifted us massively anyway. But that win gave us an extra lift going into the international break.

“That win was huge for us.”

Johnson realises that Sunderland have a big opportunity to further improve their league position this weekend against a Stoke side, who have not tasted a top flight victory since August, before a trip to 11th placed Aston Villa seven days later.

“We’ve got a couple of good games coming up now,” he added.

“The home games haven’t been kind in recent weeks, but now we’ve got some winnable away games.

“If we can keep a clean sheet, we know we can cause problems with our attack.

“I think it’s important to go to Stoke and carry on what we’ve been doing and then we should come out with a good result.”