ADAM JOHNSON has the perfect stage to boost his World Cup credentials if he remains in the Sunderland side for the Capital One Cup final, says Gus Poyet.
England boss Roy Hodgson is due to name a squad of at least 30 players on Thursday for next week’s friendly against Denmark in the final round of internationals before the summer World Cup in Brazil.
Johnson is in contention to be called-up for the first time since October, 2012, with Hodgson watching the winger in action in the Stadium of Light defeat to Hull City earlier this month.
The 26-year-old’s position in the starting XI at Wembley on Sunday could be in jeopardy after he was hauled off at half-time in Sunderland’s defeat at Arsenal last weekend.
But given Johnson’s huge improvement in form since the turn of the year, it would be a major surprise if the £10million was left out against his former club Manchester City.
And Poyet says that if Johnson can impress against the title-chasers, it could persuade Hodgson that the Sunderland wideman can perform on the big stage ahead of the summer’s World Cup.
“Normally these games are the ones that the managers of the national teams look at most,” said Poyet.
“You need to perform because that’s what you expect at the World Cup. These are big games to play in.
“England are playing Uruguay and Italy in the World Cup and the players in Adam’s position need to be at a good level against the best teams.
“The best players play for teams like Arsenal and Manchester City, so this is a good opportunity for him.”
Johnson was not even in the international reckoning before Christmas after struggling to produce a consistent run of form during his first 18 months at the Stadium of Light.
And Poyet believes that will lessen the disappointment for Johnson, if he does miss out on a place on the plane to Brazil.
“If he gets called up, it will be a big surprise and a big opportunity,” added Poyet.
“But I don’t think it will affect him the other way.
“If Theo Walcott was fit, you would have known most of the 23.
“But now it’s an extra opportunity which gives him the incentive to perform.”