Belfast Telegraph

Johnson set for cup bow

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.

Asked if both will feature in the Capital One Cup second-round tie, 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.

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."

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