Sunderland strikers were too isolated, admits Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson in action against Burnley
Adam Johnson in action against Burnley
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ADAM JOHNSON hopes Sunderland have landed upon a system which ensures their attacking players are no longer cutting a lone furrow.

Sunderland have found the net five times over the last seven days after Gus Poyet abandoned the 3-5-2 formation which he had initially used to accommodate January signing Jermain Defoe in the side.

Poyet has reverted to a version of the 4-1-4-1 strategy used for the bulk of the campaign, but with notable differences.

Connor Wickham, Steven Fletcher or Danny Graham have been used in much closer vicinity to central striker Defoe, while the three-man midfield have also pushed further up the field.

And winger Johnson, in contention to return to the starting line-up at Swansea tomorrow after a minor thumb operation in midweek, says Sunderland have needed to make that change after the lone frontman has been left isolated too often this season.

Johnson told the Echo: “We’ve tried a few different things.

“But we went back to basics against Burnley really with the formation we played.

“It wasn’t quite the same. Connor played as more of a striker and I was more like a winger in a 4-4-2.

“But we had that little bit of flexibility which was good.

“It’s bodies around everybody really.

“I think that’s been the trouble sometimes.

“Anyone who has played up front has been isolated and it’s been difficult.

“But we’ve been playing higher up and that makes it easier.”

Sunderland’s victory over Burnley last weekend lifted the Black Cats four points clear of the relegation zone, with the sense of optimism further boosted by Tuesday night’s FA Cup win at Fulham.

But Poyet immediately stressed to his players after the victory over Burnley that the job was far from done yet, with Sunderland likely to require at least a further four top flight wins to ensure their survival.

“Now we need to push on and not just sit on our laurels,” added Johnson.

“We’ve got a long way to go yet.

“But a big win against a team around us has given us a bit of breathing space.

“It didn’t really matter how we played, as long as we got the points.”