ADAM JOHNSON has been ruled out of Sunderland’s FA Cup fourth round replay at Fulham tonight after being forced to undergo a minor operation.
Johnson netted the first hat-trick of his career in Sunderland’s last visit to Craven Cottage 12 months ago.
But he will be missing tonight as the Black Cats look to secure a fifth round trip to League One Bradford (kick-off 7.45pm).
The 27-year-old has had surgery on a thumb injury, and while the procedure was nothing serious, he is unable to play due to the risk of infection.
Ricky Alvarez is pencilled in to take Johnson’s place in the starting XI, with the £10million winger expected to return to the fold for Saturday’s trip to Swansea City.
Johnson told SportMail: “Unfortunately I won’t be there. I’m getting an operation on my thumb.
“I’ll be missing this one.
“I just have to get it done, it’s not a serious thing.
“But I need the wound to heal. It’s the risk of infection that’s keeping me out.
“It’s the best time to do it with the games coming up though.
“I love playing at Craven Cottage, so I’m disappointed to miss it, but I have to have it done, so hopefully the lads can get through without me.”
Sunderland were unable to beat an under-strength Fulham side at the Stadium of Light 10 days ago, yet at least they remained in the cup following a goalless draw with the Sky Bet Championship outfit.
Top six outfits Chelsea, Manchester City, Spurs and Southampton all suffered cup upsets, to open up the competition to the Premier League’s lesser lights.
With the winners of tonight’s tussle heading to Bradford on Sunday, February 15, and a maximum of six Premier League sides involved in the quarter-finals, Johnson says there is a clear window of opportunity for Sunderland.
The former Middlesbrough winger added: “With the draw we’ve had, and the teams that have gone out, it makes it even more of an opportunity for the so-called lesser teams to do something and get to Wembley.
“We’ve got to look at it and maybe take it even more seriously than we already were.
“I think a lot of teams will be playing their strongest teams now.
“It’s a great chance for us and we want to get as far as we can.”