Rowell Report: Johnson must be in Sunderland’s starting eleven!

Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell

Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell

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I DON’T care what formation Gus Poyet plays from now until the end of the season.

But what I am certain of, is that Adam Johnson should be the first name on the team-sheet in every one of Sunderland’s remaining games.

The January Player of the Month is Sunderland’s top scorer – 10 goals now – which is a great return for a midfield player.

And he’s also the person in Sunderland’s squad who is most likely to create a goal as well as score one.

What I’ve really liked about him in his last two games is that he’s also proven to be a bit of a leader too.

Leaders don’t always come in the shape of a Kevin Ball or a Lee Cattermole, scrapping or snarling all over the pitch - although there’s always a place for that.

Johnson has displayed a different kind of leadership his last two games - both times he has come on, he has wanted the ball straight away, wanted the ball at every opportunity and he’s looked to make something happen.

That’s the sort of leadership where you are prepared to take responsibility, where you don’t go hiding and it is the sort of leadership that can drag a team through.

For me, Johnson has to start every game from now on because he’s the one true quality player that we’ve got in our side right now.

If anyone is going to get us out of this mess, it’s going to be him.

The decision to start Johnson on the bench backfired against West Ham and it is difficult to understand why the manager of a team that finds goalscoring so difficult, can leave out its leading goalscorer and most potent attacking weapon.

When Johnson eventually did come on, he looked the best player on the pitch, scoring a great goal and being a constant threat.

But the fact that he played less than half the game seemed such a waste.