Adam Johnson will make Sunderland debut in League Cup
27 August 2012 01:52
Adam Johnson will make his Sunderland debut against League Two Morecambe on Tuesday night as manager Martin O'Neill launches a new phase of his mission on Wearside.The 25-year-old England winger, who joined the club from Manchester City in a move understood to have cost them around ?12million on Friday, signed too late to have been involved in Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Reading had it gone ahead.Steven Fletcher, whose similarly expensive transfer from Wolves had been sealed a few hours earlier, was in the squad at the weekend before torrential rain forced a postponement, but O'Neill believes Johnson is at a more advanced stage in terms of match fitness.
First chance: Adam Johnson will make his debut
Asked if both will feature in the Capital One Cup second-round tie at the Stadium of Light, he said: 'That depends.'Adam, with playing for England, his fitness is fine and a lot more advanced than Steven Fletcher.'In fairness, Adam wanted to get things sorted on Friday, but the timing for Saturday just beat us.'I think for him, it would be a great opportunity. He will be playing.'O'Neill and owner and chairman Ellis Short have worked hard all summer to get their men, with the pursuit of Fletcher in particular developing into something of a saga.However, they eventually managed to prise the 25-year-old Scotland international away from the relegated Black County club after they finally accepted the last in a series of bids with barely a week of the summer transfer window remaining.
Condition: Steven Fletcher is less match fit than Johnson
The chase for Johnson was less protracted and less complicated with City looking to move him on after it became apparent that he no longer had a major part to play in manager Roberto Mancini's plans.O'Neill was thrilled to have landed his two major targets and is convinced they, coupled with experienced Frenchman Louis Saha, will give his team the attacking threat they have lacked in the last 18 months.He said: 'Fletcher gives us a bit of a new dimension. I would love to promise that we will score a lot more goals with the two in the team, but I do get the impression that we will create more chances.'Johnson is a very exciting player. He just needs more encouragement to keep going.'He is the type of player I love - someone who takes opponents on. I used to do it myself - without great success.'Black Cats midfielder Lee Cattermole is looking forward to linking up with Johnson again after the winger made the switch to Wearside.The pair both started out at Middlesbrough's academy before going on to play for the first team and captain Cattermole believes Johnson will make a huge impact back in his native north east.
Making up for lost time: Johnson was frustrated with a lack of first-team opportunities last season
'Johnno is a great talent, always has been,' Cattermole told the club's official website.'He has that ability to go past players and our fans will really like him.'I'm sure he'll do great with us and I think he'll find a lot more space and grass in front of him than he was used to at Man City.'Adam will love the challenge of playing here and is from the area too. I spoke to him (about the move) and told him he will love it at Sunderland.'He's a great lad too and will fit in no problem. I'm sure we'll see that in his performances.'It's funny - everyone seems to go their own way in football and move round clubs, so it's great to be playing alongside him again.'O'Neill admitted after Saturday's game was called off that he would have to have a re-think about his selection for Tuesday night's game, hinting he may not have made too many changes to the side which would have started against the Royals.
Trio: Louis Saha is the third big name signing
The cup competitions will once again be a significant focus for the Black Cats this season with the manager still ruing the opportunity which got away during the last campaign when they managed to bring Everton back to Wearside for an FA Cup quarter-final replay, but simply did not turn up and lost 2-0.O'Neill said: 'The cup tie is very important for us. We had a taste for the cup last year and the atmosphere that night against Everton in the replay was extraordinary.'It showed just what it means to the people here. We would love to do well.'We have a home tie and really want to make the most of it. We just want to give it a real go and show people what we want to do.'I have not had the chance to see Morecambe myself, but we have reports and we will look at video coverage of them.'We want to do really well in the cup competitions.'