Sam Allardyce has challenged Adam Johnson to be Sunderland’s match-winner on a regular basis.
Johnson netted his fourth goal in six derby wins over Newcastle on Sunday when he showed ice-cool composure to fire Sunderland ahead from the penalty spot.
He’s got that much ability and we want him to shine and express himself that way on a regular basisSam Allardyce
The 28-year-old had been preferred in the starting line-up to Seb Larsson, as new manager Allardyce opted for an attack-minded line-up for his opening home game in charge.
But that was only Johnson’s third Premier League start of the season – the previous one at Manchester United seeing the winger hauled off at half-time.
Allardyce says Johnson, plus those players currently on the fringes, needs to show more of that quality if they are to have a place in his plans.
“Adam Johnson is a match-winner for us,” said Allardyce.
“He’s got that much ability and we want him to shine and express himself that way on a regular basis.
“I’d say that about everyone who has Premier League experience here.
“If you lose your place, where has your form gone?
“Why are you not using that experience to your advantage?
“Generally, they’ll say it’s the manager’s fault!
“But if they’re not in the side, it’s because their performances are not what we know they can give.”
An elusive first Premier League victory of the campaign moved Sunderland to within two points of fourth-bottom Bournemouth, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Everton.
But Allardyce was also heartened to see Sunderland leapfrog both Newcastle and managerless Aston Villa, with the latter falling to the foot of the table.
Allardyce added: “The main aim for us is to get out of the position we’re in, but, when you play your old rivals, it’s the best victory of all, the best victory of the season.
“Under the circumstances, it’s an even bigger victory.
“It gets us off the bottom, which I think is also important.
“Everybody will say there’s a long way to go and there’s many games, but every point is precious, no matter when you get it.”