ADAM JOHNSON fears playing for a team in the bottom half of the Premier League table has scuppered his World Cup hopes.
The Sunderland winger was left out of the 30-man England squad for the friendly against Denmark earlier this month, despite being named the Barclays Premier League Player of the Month for January.
Since the turn of the year, Johnson has produced his best form for Sunderland since joining in a £10million move from Manchester City in the summer of 2012, yet it wasn’t sufficient to earn an England recall from Roy Hodgson.
While Johnson has not ruled out the prospect of being a late inclusion in the squad for the summer’s World Cup, the 26-year-old believes it will take injuries to secure a place on the plane to Brazil.
But he wasn’t necessarily shocked by his snub from Hodgson; stressing that only two of the 27 outfield players in the squad are plying their trade for clubs outside the Premier League’s top eight.
Johnson said: “I think a lot of people were surprised. I think a lot of people saw me as almost a certainty but if you look at the last squad it was almost all top eight bar (Steven) Caulker, who wasn’t meant to be in it but for (Phil) Jagielka’s injury.
“I think that says a lot about the selection. I don’t think it really matters how well you’re playing, it’s who you play for.
“It’s a fact isn’t it? If you look at the last 10 squads: Southampton have been playing well, they’re in the top eight – and the rest are Everton, Tottenham, Man United, Man City, clubs like that.
“All my caps came when I was at City. Sometimes I got picked when I wasn’t playing. Now I’m playing more and I can’t get a cap. It’s just a fact. It’s not me being sour.
“Some of the players, if they weren’t playing for the big clubs, wouldn’t be anywhere near it.
“I came to Sunderland to play more, rather than thinking about England. But some games I wasn’t even on the bench at City but I was still in the England squad.”
Hodgson insisted prior to the Denmark friendly that the door remained open for Johnson.
But the former Middlesbrough man hasn’t featured in an England squad since 2012, with fellow wingers Andros Townsend, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling and James Milner all appearing to be ahead of him in the pecking order.
“I felt it was probably the closest I’d been under Roy Hodgson,” said Johnson.
“But in his mind I don’t think he really wanted any big decisions to make so he stuck with the players who had been around since the start of the campaign.
“That’s life, that’s the way it goes. It will be interesting to see how it goes in the World Cup and what happens after.
“I think it will probably take a few injuries for me to get in but if you’re still playing well and fit, you never know.
“In December I was probably 50th choice, and it was only in January people started talking about it. I’ve got to just play my game.”