One of the stories of the past few months has been the resurgence of Adam Johnson. The often infuriating winger has been back to his very best of late, and has encapsulated the change in fortunes at Sunderland, who have gone from the foot of the table and almost certain relegation to a mid-table position and a major cup final.
As is the way in England, if a player of any age is on a hot streak there are always screams of ‘get him in the national side’, and with the World Cup looming on the horizon these calls have only been intensified. Johnson has naturally been linked with a shock return to the squad, with Roy Hodgson believed to be considering him as a possible member of his final 23 after Theo Walcott was ruled out of the tournament through injury.
Although he has been setting the Premier League alight on an almost weekly basis, the 26-year-old still has much to do to force his way into England’s set-up, but a top performance in the Capital One Cup Final may be enough to further boost his hopes.
Johnson has already enjoyed a brief spell in the gaze of the spotlight that follows the England national side, with Fabio Capello having handed him the first of his 11 caps in 2010. Upon the Italian’s exit the wide-man lost his way a little, with his disappearing act at Manchester City (as if by fate, Sunderland’s opponents in the Final) a contributing factor to his slide from the set-up.
His last appearance in a friendly under the guidance of temporary boss Stuart Pearce in 2012 looked to be the last time we would see Johnson in the iconic white jersey, with his move to the Stadium of Light having been far from a massive success initially. But, a recent revival under Gus Poyet has put him squarely on Hodgson’s radar at, perhaps, the most important time of all.
With other players out of the running and the focus of the whole football-loving country set to be firmly upon the Wembley pitch on the second day of March, Johnson has an opportunity that could define the remainder of his career. A successful showing, regardless of the end result, will be a major boost to his hopes, with form heading into a big competition often a massive factor when an international boss sets about making his final decision.
With friendly games few and far between for England in the build-up to Brazil, a massive performance on the highest of stages could be enough to move Johnson from a ‘maybe’ to a ‘probably’ in the eyes of the Three Lions’ head coach who, despite never calling up the skilful star, did have him on his reserve list for EURO 2012.
This shows that he has an interest in the Wearside-born ace, who is now presented with the opportunity he craves. As England fans, it would be hard to deny him a spot if he continues to perform at his current level, but it would be virtually impossible to refuse him the opportunity if he plays a major part in the Capital One Cup Final.
Sponsored by Capital One. The Credit Card that Supports the Supporters.
For exclusive content, competitions and more visit: Facebook.com/CapitalOneUK
For Capital One Credit Cards visit: www.capitalone.co.uk