Sam Allardyce admits that Sunderland midfielder Adam Johnson has lost his pace

Sam Allardyce

Adam Johnson played in a more central role for Sunderland against Aston Villa.

Sam Allardyce has admitted to the Sunderland Echo that Adam Johnson has lost some of his pace.

Johnson is now 28 years old, and he doesn’t possess the spring in the step he once did, as a skilful winger at Middlesbrough.

As a result, Allardyce is keen to test Johnson out in a more central role, which should enable him to get on the ball more often.

“He’s not quite as quick as he used to be, but he can be very effective because he’s got a good football brain,” Allardyce said.

“He finds good spaces in that area, he can handle the ball when he’s marked.

“There’s not many of our players who can receive the ball when they’re marked, but he can deal with it and he can deal with the man who’s marking him. He can roll and turn him, and come out with the ball and get us going in an attacking mode.”

Johnson played in the attacking midfield role for Sunderland against Aston Villa at the weekend, and he impressed.

The England international was able to show his creativity, with more licence to roam, and he was influential as Sunderland picked up a vital win.

The Black Cats beat Remi Garde’s side 3-1 to move a lot closer to safety, and end their run of five consecutive defeats.

Sunderland are now four points away from safety, and their is genuine optimism around the Stadium of Light again.

Sunderland’s next match comes in the FA Cup against Arsenal, before they face a hugely important Premier League fixture against fellow relegation strugglers Swansea City.

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