SUNDERLAND winger Adam Johnson has backed January signing Danny Graham to come good in the club’s hour of need.
The 27-year-old frontman will carry the burden of firing the Black Cats to Premier League safety after leading scorer Steven Fletcher’s season was finished by ankle ligament damage sustained on Scotland duty.
Graham, a £5million transfer window acquisition from Swansea, has started the last four of his six games to date for the Wearsiders alongside the Scotland international, but is yet to add to the seven goals this term with which he arrived.
However, Johnson is convinced he is ready to make his mark at the Stadium of Light – with Manchester United in town tomorrow.
He said: “Fletch has proved himself this season. Without his goals, we would be in a lot worse position. He’s going to be a big miss for us. I think it’s important for the whole team to step up now and put the performances in we know we are capable of.
“It’s important someone gets the goals with Fletch missing because we haven’t scored that many or created many chances. When we get them, it’s important to put them away.
“I think Danny is a couple of games away from getting a good run.”
Fletcher’s 11 goals for the club he joined for £12million from Wolves during the summer have proved invaluable, and his absence robs O’Neill of his most potent weapon just when he needs him most, with the visit of Manchester United followed by clashes with Chelsea, Newcastle and Everton. Johnson said: “It’s been so frustrating because we have got some really good players. We haven’t had the results and have struggled massively at times.
“All the lads are really frustrated, but we have got to keep working hard and hopefully it will come.”
United come north looking to extend their unbeaten league record at the Stadium of Light – they have won seven times and drawn three in 10 Premier games, beaten only in a League Cup tie 2000.