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Monday, December 3, 2012
O'Neill to keep faith in Johnson

Kristan Heneage

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has suggested he will persevere with Adam Johnson, despite the winger's recent poor form.

• Blog: Sunderland's crisis deepens

Johnson, 25, joined the Black Cats from Manchester City in the summer for 10 million but has since struggled to recapture the form that saw him earn his move to the Etihad.

With O'Neill having already confirmed that no player is guaranteed a place in the side, he was forced to concede that he is slightly hamstrung by his lack of options.

"That is what you hope to work for eventually at a club, but we are not in that position," he said. "We have not got a big enough squad and we don't have that many choices, but even if we did have, sometimes players have to play their way out of it. Over the course of a season Adam Johnson will be successful."

Feeling Johnson's issues stem from a lack of confidence, O'Neill also believes the change in role - from a bit part player at City to an integral one on Wearside - is something the player is still adjusting to.

"It is all about confidence," he said. "If you analyse his form, it is not fantastically surprising. He had a cameo role at Manchester City and was playing with really great players, coming on for a 15-minute spell and not having to worry about defending because others in the City side would take care of that for him.

"He has come to us and he is an integral player in our team and he has to adjust to that. That takes a little bit of time."

Citing the wideman's time at first club Middlesbrough, O'Neill still holds faith in Johnson, despite the winger recording just one goal and three assists in eleven games.

"He did remarkably well when Stewart Downing left Middlesbrough and got his move to Man City." he said. "Adam has more than enough natural talent to be successful. We will see what happens."

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