GUS Poyet believes the transformation he has seen in England hopeful Adam Johnson was summed up by one magic moment in last week’s derby.
And he says the winger fully deserves the January Premier League Player of the Month award in the wake of scoring six goals in seven games and being the key player in Sunderland’s astounding progress in cup and league.
“I’m glad that Adam won it and I think it is right that he won it,” Poyet told the Echo.
“We are delighted as a club for him and we only hope he can win another one - because that would mean we would be safe!
“In January we saw him as the player he is more than capable of being - the player who frightens defenders and the player who can make the difference for us in games.
“I remember that moment in the game against Newcastle in the second half when Marcos Alonso fired over a deep cross from the left and Adam took it down in one touch and went on the attack.
“Earlier in the season, maybe the touch is not so good, maybe he takes it down but passes it back to Phil Bardsley.
“But no, he is full of confidence right now and he takes the ball down and has the confidence to go for goal even though he is surrounded by Newcastle shirts and he is so unlucky when he goes past them only to hit the post.
“That’s how he is at the moment though, full of confidence and hopefully we can keep him in that zone.”
So impressive has Johnson been that England manager Roy Hodgson was due at Sunderland’s game today to check on the form of the Easington-born winger and Hull’s former Spurs midfielder Tom Huddlestone.
Poyet is convinced that Johnson has already demonstrated England form.
But he reckons the challenge facing the Sunderland wideman now is to maintain it.
The Black Cats’ head coach said: “I always say there is a group of players that pick themselves for the World Cup regardless, but there’s also always room for one or two more.
“And Adam has put himself in the frame as one of those last-minute additions.
“If the World Cup was next week, I feel he’d be going, so it’s up to him to keep the good form going until the end of the season and force his way in.”