Gus Poyet has urged Adam Johnson to make the most of a chance to impress Roy Hodgson today – after insisting the winger deserves credit for turning around his Sunderland career.
Johnson will be watched by the England manager today with Poyet claiming that the winger has one foot on the plane to Brazil. One of the accusations levelled at Johnson in the past was about his attitude, but Poyet insists that he deserves credit for the way he reacted to losing his place earlier in the season.
“I have no doubt that when you are dropped, you ask yourself why. What is going on? The initial idea was not working, that was clear,” he said.
“There were different reasons, but in the beginning, things were not working. As the person responsible, I was searching for solutions. At the time, I thought it was the best decision.
“You hope there will be a reaction and the player will think about it, but the most important thing is that they do not give up. Some players, you change things, and a month later they give up because they think they are finished or that they want to go and put in a transfer request.
“Those reactions show you who you are. Credit to Adam, that he did nothing like that. I’ve always said the biggest responsibility is his. He was the one who really went to another level, and he asked me to play every game.”
Johnson’s place in Sunderland’s plans was open to debate earlier this season, with the winger linked with a loan move away in January. But Poyet insists he was never close to giving up on him.
“It’s difficult to say. You never know, but I would have asked myself different questions, no doubt,” he said.
“I would have acted in a different way and probably had more chats with him to try to sort out a solution in a different way. I think most of the time, it is about time. There are a few players who disappear completely, but most of the time, you have to make sure you do everything possible before.
“I was never close to giving up on him though.” Meanwhile, Poyet is ready to give Ignacio Scocco his debut in the Hull clash – while Connor Wickham has also been given encouragement that there will be opportunities for him moving forward. The Sunderland boss has told him to make the most of playing for an in-form team.
“There were a number of players in there that were important to have between now and the end of the season,” he said.
“You need to plan if there are injuries or suspensions. It was not an easy decision (whether to send him out on loan or not). It made it easier with Fletcher not being fit. I am sure he is going to play a part. I just hope he is ready and he can really perform.
“It is a good time to play in this team. He is maybe not expecting to play but after 30 minutes we may need him to jump in and perform. it is a pleasure to be part of playing for Sunderland and what better opportunity for a striker.”