ADAM Johnson admits his fitness is still flagging after being affected by injury in BOTH his first two Premier League outings for Sunderland.
Johnson was passed fit just two hours before kick-off in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic, yet managed to complete 79 minutes to help Sunderland to their first league win of the campaign.
The £10million winger missed Sunderland’s clashes with Liverpool and West Ham after aggravating a thigh injury on England duty.
But Johnson (left) said the source of the problem actually originated before the international break, suffering the injury in the warm-up prior to his Black Cats Premier League bow at Swansea.
Now the 25-year-old is ready to reap the rewards from a full week of training and boost his fitness in time for next Saturday’s trip to former club Manchester City.
Johnson told the Echo: “I injured myself in the warm-up at Swansea a little bit and carried that niggle onto England duty.
“I haven’t really been right since to be honest. Saturday was the best I’ve felt so far.
“It’s good to get the injury behind me because I’ve never been one to have injuries. It’s just that this one happened right after I signed.
“I want to put it behind me and get my sharpness back now.
“The leg felt good on Saturday, but I still haven’t really trained with the lads.
“I didn’t really feel that sharp on Saturday, but the team did a job and the gaffer wanted to put me in.
“I lasted 80 minutes or so which I’m reasonably happy with.
“I felt good fitness-wise. I’m just a bit off the pace still, but that’ll come.”
A first league victory since March was not a vintage one for Sunderland, who were indebted to two splendid saves from keeper Simon Mignolet to keep proceedings goalless at the interval.
But Jordi Gomez’s dismissal two minutes into the second half proved decisive - Sunderland immediately making their numerical advantage count when Steven Fletcher slotted home his fifth in four outings for the Black Cats.
Johnson added: “Obviously now, it’s a really good start for us and we can push on now we’ve got that first win.
“I think the sending off was the turning point.
“I didn’t see it, but in any game when you’re down to 10 men, it’s always difficult.
“It lifted us a little bit and a win is a win.
“The saves were vital too. They were two top quality saves from Simon and other than that, I can’t really remember them having too many chances.
“But as soon as the sending off happened, we dominated the game pretty much with the extra man.”