ADAM Johnson IS a firm part of Gus Poyet’s plans, despite speculation over the Sunderland winger’s future.
Johnson’s status has come under scrutiny over the last fortnight, with several clubs linked with a move for last season’s joint top scorer.
Liverpool and Monaco have been credited with an interest in the former Manchester City man, while Hull and Everton have been mentioned as suitors for an unlikely loan move.
But the Echo understands that Sunderland are not looking to offload Johnson after the 26-year-old finally showed his true worth during the second half of last season.
Johnson was recognised as the best player in the country during January and while his performance levels drifted over the remainder of the campaign, he was still regularly Sunderland’s most dangerous player.
After Johnson had struggled for the first 18 months of his Sunderland career after his £10million move, head coach Poyet now sees the Easington-born wideman as a key ingredient in his blueprint for next season.
And while no player in Sunderland’s squad can realistically be classed as unsellable, it would take a mega money offer to persuade Sunderland to part company with Johnson.
Sunderland’s focus is on boosting their options out wide, rather than depleting them, after losing the services of loan success Fabio Borini.
Johnson aside, the only other widemen on Sunderland’s books are last summer’s signings Emanuele Giaccherini and Charis Mavrias – who are yet to genuinely convince – along with youngster Duncan Watmore.
The Black Cats are hopeful of re-signing Borini on a permanent deal, yet recognise that patience is required in their pursuit of the Italian, who set Liverpool back more than £10million two years ago.
Talks are ongoing between the two clubs, but may boil down to whether Borini is prepared to forego the opportunity to prove himself again at Anfield to rejoin Sunderland.
Reports yesterday suggested Liverpool could use Borini as a makeweight in their pursuit of Southampton pair Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren.
Liverpool have seen two bids rejected for Lallana, with Southampton holding out for £30million for the England midfielder, while the Merseysiders are also keen on Croatian centre-half Lovren.
Borini has reportedly been mooted as a part-exchange option in a deal for Lallana, with Sunderland well aware that they are not the only suitors vying for the 23-year-old’s signature.