GUS POYET believes Premier League Player of the Month Adam Johnson would be included in England’s World Cup squad if it was picked next week.
And Poyet says the challenge for the Sunderland winger now is to maintain his current form until the end of the campaign to cement his place in Roy Hodgson’s plans.
Johnson beat off competition from Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Manchester City’s Yaya Toure to win the prestigious award for January after netting seven goals in as many games.
The 26-year-old will have a chance to demonstrate that form to Hodgson tomorrow, with the England boss due at the Stadium of Light to watch Sunderland’s clash with Hull City.
Sunderland boss Poyet believes Johnson has deserved the accolade and hopes he can continue his purple patch to earn a place on the plane to Brazil in the summer.
Poyet said today: “I think it’s totally deserved. We’re delighted as a club and I’m sure the players are as well.
“We know how important it was for Adam to perform and show what he can do.
“Without doubt, he was the player of the month so hopefully he can win another one and get us safe.
“There are a group of players that pick themselves for the World Cup - 16 or 17 of them.
“But there’s going to be places for a few players who get injured or someone who reaches an incredible level that you can’t leave behind.
“If the World Cup was next week, Adam would be there.
“The idea is to make him maintain that level and see if he can make it.”
Johnson has enjoyed a dramatic change of fortunes since the turn of the year and Poyet says the Easington-born winger has to take the bulk of the credit for that upturn in his performance.
“When things were not going fantastic for him and for the team, you have to share it (the blame),” added Poyet.
“We are trying to play better for him, but the one who has to take the most credit is Adam.
“He’s the one in the right place, making decisions, working hard and wanting to play all the time.
“That’s nothing to do with me and that’s why he deserves all the credit.”