ADAM Johnson WILL make his Sunderland debut in tonight’s Capital One Cup after boasting a fitness advantage over fellow new boy Steven Fletcher.
Johnson was not eligible for the weekend’s rained-off Premier League encounter against Reading after his £10million move to the Stadium of Light wasn’t completed before the noon registration deadline on Friday.
But the 25-year-old is eligible for tonight’s clash with Morecambe and despite being left out of Manchester City’s opening victory over Southampton, there are no problems with the Easington-born winger’s fitness after playing 90 minutes in England’s win over Italy a fortnight ago.
Fletcher, who had been included in the squad to face Reading, is also likely to feature although the £12m frontman is still short of fitness after featuring just once for Wolves during pre-season due to a minor ankle problem.
Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill said: “With Adam playing for England, his fitness is fine and a lot more advanced than Steven Fletcher.
“Adam wanted to get things sorted on Friday but the timing for Reading just beat us.
“But I think for him (tonight) would be a great opportunity. He will be playing.
“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!!”
Sunderland had been expecting a crowd of around 40,000 before the Reading clash was called off.
And there is likely to be a healthy attendance tonight too, with Johnson and Fletcher in line to make their first appearances in red and white.
O’Neill added: “I would never want to encourage or forcefully tell people to turn up. It is a costly business these days.
“But I think some of our fans are really excited about Adam Johnson coming to this club.
“And I am sure they will come and support him.
“But over the course of the season, they will have plenty opportunities to see what we are getting.”.