Adam Johnson should have stayed at Manchester City to fight for his place, rather than seek a move to Sunderland, Match of the Day pundit Mark Lawrenson has claimed.
The 26-year-old midfielder scored a hat-trick for Gus Poyet’s side as they hammered Fulham 4-1 at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon, taking his goal tally for the season to six.
However, former Liverpool defender Lawrenson is unconvinced, stating that it had been “too easy” for Johnson to leave City. Johnson joined the Black Cats for £10m in August 2012 after finding his first-team opportunities increasingly limited at the Etihad.
“This boy Johnson has all the ability in the world, but you know what, if he had anything about him he would have stayed at Manchester City and made it there,” said Lawrenson on Sunday evening’s Match of the Day 2.
“The next few weeks are big for him. It was too easy to go, I just wonder how professional he is. He’s got all the ability in the world - I just hope he’s not one of those we all say ‘great ability, but you know what, he let himself down.’”
Johnson is targeting a place in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the World Cup in Brazil this summer. He has gained only two England caps under Hodgson, and was left out of the squads for both the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship.
But with Theo Walcott ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury, competition for a place on the right wing has opened up, with Johnson one of a number of potential replacements.
Johnson may have his work cut out in persuading Hodgson, however. He joined City from Middlesbrough in February 2010, but found himself increasingly on the periphery, with a series of inconsistent displays hindering his club and international career.
image: © Ben Sutherland