ADAM Johnson has welcomed the support of Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini after a weekend in which the Wearside-born winger was linked with a season-long loan move to Sunderland.
Sunday papers suggested that Steve Bruce was hopeful of bringing the England wideman to the Stadium of Light next season on loan.
Everton have also been linked with a loan move for a player who is reported to be unsettled at his lack of first-team starts at Eastlands.
But Mancini has now made it clear that Johnson remains part of his plans and the player himself responded: “Obviously it’s nice when the manager is saying stuff because when you get linked with other teams – and it’s happened to plenty of players over the years – you can start to think you’re not part of the plans.
“But it’s brilliant that he’s come out and said that.
“I think with the players we buy and the squad we’ve got, 90 per cent of the players know they’re not going to play every game. It’s just part of being a massive club.”
It would be unsurprising if Bruce was hoping to bring in Johnson, or his team-mate Craig Bellamy and Aston Villa left-back Stephen Warnock – two other players who were linked with Sunderland yesterday.
But any hopes the Black Cats’ boss might have of strengthening his squad further after nine summer signings so far, are dependent at the moment on him selling players or moving them out on loan in order to free up funds.
The trio of players mentioned are all players Bruce has expressed an admiration for in the past.
And the chance of bringing any of them in would appeal to the manager, who would love to strengthen even further.
But whatever interest Sunderland might have in new signings the priority at the Stadium of Light has become to remove players who do not have a long-term future at the club – particularly high earners – from the wage bill.
And in the lead up to the new season, that’s the area in which the energies of the manager and chairman are being focused.