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Johnson must keep the faith

03 Jun 2010 09:22:22

| Submit Comments| Comments (24)| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapNOT THIS TIME: Adam JohnsonAdam Johnson now needs to show his strength of character by bouncing back after his England rejection. But the winger who showed such incredible late-season form to make the provisional World Cup squad in the first place has the armoury to prove himself as the bargain buy of City?s modern big-spending era. That?s according to Gary Owen, the Blues legend who is a fixture in football folklore after clocking up  22 England under-21 and nine B squad caps . . . but never winning a full international cap for his country. ?Adam?s doing better than me already because he?s got nine minutes against Mexico,? quipped M.E.N. Sport columnist Owen, who was baffled that Fabio Capello opted to make 22-year-old Johnson one of the unlucky seven axed from the final 23-strong squad that has arrived in South Africa. Midfielder Owen, who reluctantly moved from Maine Road to West Brom in 1979, said: ?Adam has shown he can do it at Premier League level after moving from the Championship and that?s an achievement in itself. ?I am surprised Capello didn?t take him to the World Cup as a wild card because he consistently spoke so highly of him. ?Johnson has impressed everyone at City and he did have some international experience in the under-21s which is a stepping stone for some! Everyone who has worked with him be it Gordon Strachan, Gareth Southgate and of course Stuart Pearce have all spoken of his qualities. ?His club manager Roberto Mancini was certainly impressed because he used him so often regularly keeping Shaun Wright-Phillips out of the team. ?What puzzled me most about Capello?s decision was that he can play on either flank and his delivery is probably better than all the other wide players. ?Having caught Capello?s eye he clearly gave it his best shot. All he can do now is build on what he did last season. ?He needs to stay in the City team first and then he?ll continue to improve especially as he?ll be much more in the public eye after actually playing for his country and so narrowly missing out. ?He has only a slight build so will build up his strength. He obviously has great strengths such as an eye for a killer pass, crossing accurately and of course an ability to  beat and go past people. ?For me he is the ultimate modern day footballer getting forward but doing his fair share in defence. ?Future City legend? That?s an over-used phrase,? added Owen. ?I don?t think he is anything like those other famous City wingers Dennis Tueart, Peter Barnes or Mike Summerbee who made their names in the last third. ?It?s difficult to compare and it is important that Johnson too does it in the last third showing all his energies there as well." Johnson, who signed from Middlesbrough for just £6m in January has a great advantage over Owen who reckons his chances of full England recognition diminished as he was to an extent out of the national spotlight at WBA. Owen said: ?Bryan Robson had to move from WBA to United before he got noticed and his career took off so well. ?Adam will just have to do what I did and battle on. Its all about strength of character but he will be fine I?m absolutely sure of that as he improves on a season that ended with him going so close to actually going to a World Cup. ?The best advice is to follow what Rio Ferdinand has been saying, for after all he?s had disappointments in his career, and that?s to work hard at your club and get into the next squad. ?In the cold light of day, he can reflect he?s already caught the national coach?s eye so needs to step up and work on what he achieved in the last half of the season." Owen?s disappointment for Johnson has been tempered by his  delight for long-standing City favourite Wright-Phillips who pipped Theo Walcott for a place in the 23. ?It is brilliant for Shaun,? he said. ?If he had been discarded it would have been devastating for him after missing out last time. ?Against Japan in 45 minutes he showed that bulldog spirit Capello has been asking for from his England team. He knew one wide player wasn?t going to South Africa and was determined it was not going to be him. He played as if to say ?I?m on that plane.? What do you think? Have your say.


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