LEE CATTERMOLE has backed Adam Johnson to seal a World Cup spot despite missing the start of England’s qualifying campaign.
Johnson is back on Wearside undergoing treatment on a thigh injury which has ruled him out of England’s Group H opener against Moldova tonight, together with Tuesday’s clash with Ukraine.
But Sunderland skipper and fellow ex-Middlesbrough academy graduate Cattermole (right) believes the £10million summer signing will be at the forefront of Roy Hodgson’s thoughts if England can safely secure their passage to Brazil in two years time.
Johnson has missed out on the last two international tournaments after being culled at the final selection stage for the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
But with the increased first-team opportunities and exposure stemming from his move to Sunderland, Cattermole is confident the 25-year-old can make it third time lucky.
Cattermole told the Echo: “To come back to the North East, he’ll get a lot of attention around here. Sometimes that’s hard to handle.
“But Johnno’s a great lad and he’s shown the desire to come because he wants to play.
“He’s going to further his career, kick on and be a full England international all the time.
“I’m sure when the next World Cup comes along, he’s going to be in it.”
Cattermole played an influential role in Johnson’s decision to swap Premier League champions Manchester City for Sunderland, despite interest from Spurs, Liverpool and Fulham.
The 24-year-old, who also returned to the North East after a spell in the North West, went on a charm offensive in urging the Easington-born winger to join him at the Stadium of Light after City accepted Sunderland’s £10m offer.
“Once the club got permission to speak, I gave him a ring and said ‘you’ll absolutely love it’,” added Stockton-born midfielder Cattermole.
“It’s a big thing for him. He played in the team that won the Premier League last year. It was a big ask for him to come away from there.
“Johnno is a phenomenal player and to have him here, at the age he’s at, is brilliant for the club.
“He’s in the prime of his career and he’s only going to get better.
“Once you’re in the area where you grew up, people connect to you a lot more.
“It’s easier for people to stop you in the street and talk to you.
“This is a massive football club and Johnno has seen that and it’s the same as I was when I was at Wigan.
“You come here because of the size of the club.”