ADAM Johnson was today named the Barclays Premier League Player of the Month for January.
The in-form Sunderland winger beat off competition from Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Manchester City’s Yaya Toure to win the prestigious award.
But Wembley-bound Sunderland boss Gus Poyet, on the shortlist with Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho and Crystal Palace’s Tony Pulis, narrowly missed out on the Manager of the Month honour after being pipped to the post by Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini.
Pellegrini’s players went unbeaten in all seven games in January to reach the top of the Premier League and the final of the Capital One Cup in a goal-laden spell.
But while Poyet continued his good run – Sunderland starting February with a stirring win over derby rivals Newcastle, City lost at home to Chelsea to be displaced at the summit by Arsenal.
The two managers are set to face each other next week in the league at the Etihad Stadium – Poyet’s Sunderland having beaten Pellegrini’s City in their encounter at the Stadium of Light back in November – before meeting again for the Capital One Cup final at Wembley on March 2.
And on both occasions, Johnson – a £10million signing from City by ex-Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill in August 2012 – can expect to be a prominent figure.
The 26-year-old has been in the form of his life in recent months as Poyet has found a means of getting the best out of a player who struggled to produce his best football under previous bosses O’Neill and Paolo Di Canio.
Johnson scored at the weekend in the 3-0 win over the Magpies to take his season-long tally to nine goals so far.
But it was his six goals in seven games in January which helped win him the Player of the Month Award.
Johnson scored a hat-trick in Sunderland’s 4-1 away win against Fulham before hitting the equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Southampton and the winner against Stoke City to bring his Barclays Premier League goal tally for the month to five.
He also scored in January’s 3-1 FA Cup third round win over Carlisle United.
The award could hardly be more timely for Johnson who has been openly talked about as a wildcard addition to England’s World Cup squad this summer.
England boss Roy Hodgson is expected at the Stadium of Light this weekend to run the rule over Johnson in Sunderland’s game against Steve Bruce’s Hull City and one of the first things he will see is the Easington-born wideman presented with his award.