O'Neill cool on Johnson injury

20 September 2012 03:17

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has played down the severity of midfielder Adam Johnson's injury ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to West Ham but will not rush him back into the side in a bid to win much-needed points.

Johnson, who moved to the Stadium of Light this summer from Manchester City, sat out Sunderland's 1-1 draw against Liverpool last weekend after he picked up a thigh injury during his call up to the England squad.

"We were hoping that he [Johnson] would have made the fixture last weekend against Liverpool but that wasn't the case," O'Neill said. "He's progressing but it's too difficult or too early to say for this weekend from his viewpoint."

O'Neill continued: "We thought he might have made it for Liverpool, but on Friday morning he was still feeling it having trained on Thursday and not done so badly.

"Rather than risking him, we left it another week, I was reasonably hopeful last week, maybe this extra week will help but I couldn't be certain.

"Carlos Cuellar has had a hamstring problem so I think he will be very doubtful for not just this game but the next couple of matches, so from that viewpoint it's a bit disconcerting but you just have to get on with it."

O'Neill's side currently have three points to show from draws against Arsenal, Swansea and Liverpool, with their match against Reading called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

It has left them much lower down the table than O'Neill would have liked, and while they have a game in hand, the Sunderland boss wants to get the first win under his belt.

"It is important to win games in the Premier league because if you start falling behind it's a long road back," O'Neill said. "We've got three points in the first three games and all three matches have presented difficulties.

"Away at Arsenal it was a tough opening day of the season to get something out of there, especially considering how they are playing now, Swansea were flying very high at that time and Liverpool are a tough game either home or away. It would be nice to win a game but we will do that in due course."

Source: PA