Sunderland’s Johnson: Forget drop fears and enjoy derby

Paolo Di Canio has a word with Adam Johnson.

Paolo Di Canio has a word with Adam Johnson.

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ADAM Johnson says Sunderland must look forward to the derby game against Newcastle United tomorrow and put thoughts of the Premier League relegation battle out of their heads.

The Black Cats went into the weekend’s fixtures with only goal difference separating them from the bottom three and there’s no escaping how perilous Sunderland’s plight is at the foot of the division.

But former Middlesbrough and Manchester City winger Johnson says he and his team-mates have to treat the derby clash like a cup-tie and focus only on the match itself.

“It’s a one-off as a game,” the 25-year-old told the Echo. “It stands alone and it’s a fixture which is always massive no matter where the teams are in the division or what sort of season they’re having.

“As a local lad, no one has to tell me how important the game is and we have to give it full respect this weekend.

“If you look at the league table right now, it doesn’t look great.

“But I don’t tend to look too far ahead in terms of the games – you can only worry about the team immediately in front of you – and that team is Newcastle now.

“The derby is going to be something special and I just think what a time that would be to perform as a team and show people how well you can play.

”All we’ve got to do for the derby is give that game 100 per cent concentration and effort and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”

Despite Sunderland’s present league difficulties, Johnson insists there is no panic in the camp and there’s a confidence that results will come.

“We’ve just got to pick ourselves up a bit and hopefully get one or two good results that will please everyone,” he said.

“A couple of wins on the bounce transforms things, so we know it is still there if we can pick up a few points.”