Salut Reflections: on Adam Johnson’s injury with England, Steven Fletcher’s swift repayment

Jake as Tony Roffe's caption writer

The energetic and therefore indispensable Stephen Goldsmith launches what may be an occasional series or a regular feature, depending on stamina, in which Salut! Sunderland writers – or maybe just Goldy – offer thoughts on SAFC-related issues in the news. He kicks off with reactions to Adam Johnson’s thigh injury in the World Cup qualifiers build-up (see my Club vs Country piece at the ESPN Soccernet site) and Steven Fletcher’s early riposte to those who questioned a fee he had nothing to do with …

Adam Johnson ruled out of international double header

It was worrying news indeed that reached the SAFC community when it was revealed that Adam Johnson has been ruled out of the international double header against Moldova and Ukraine. While the immediate despair was reduced somewhat by the thigh injury being described as “minor”, it was natural to feel a little concerned.

After the anti-climax that was the Reading wash out, it would be a mini-tragedy in many people’s eyes if he failed to make our first home league game against a shaky looking Liverpool. That said, provided the injury is indeed minor, then at least we can put our minds at rest, safe in the knowledge that he cannot suffer something more serious playing for England and further delay his home league debut. 

I personally would have liked to have seen him play for England and return with even more confidence in his game. The thought of him, McClean and Sess running at defences has been the topic of many pub conversations in the last fortnight and the anticipation of it seems to be lingering in the Sunderland air. While the return of Seb Larsson to the right wing would highlight our newly found strength in depth, it would be a little saddening in the sense that we have all waited for what seems an eternity for a home league debut of this stature. 

His injury is reminiscent of the time when Roy Keane signed Kieran Richardson from Manchester United following our return to the Premier League in 2007. He and Craig Gordon were the only real quality signings of that summer as we struggled to persuade players that moving north to a perceived yo-yo club was in their best interests, despite Sir Niall’s best intentions and efforts. On Richardson’s arrival, Keane was quoted as to saying that he never got injured and that was a huge factor in being a successful Premier League player. Of course he missed a substantial amount of that season through injury, inevitable really.  Jumping forward five years, and finding ourselves in a position to attract players of Johnson’s calibre, to lose him like we did Kieran that season would be a devasting blow for the club. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

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Fletcher speaks of relief in justifying price tag

Steven Fletcher has spoken of his delight at scoring a brace on his debut. In some quarters this has been reported as if Steven had claimed his transfer fee was immediately justified because of his achievement. That is not strictly true but you’d struggle to find many questioning the price tag since he grabbed his Liberty Stadium double.

Football fans are a fickle bunch and should Steven now embark on a goal drought of Jon Stead proportions then the size of the fee would be catapulted back into the spotlight. Strikers feed off the confidence that goals bring, however, and you would hope that a fully fit Fletcher can now go from strength to strength from the start he has given himself. While his first was a particularly impressive finish, his second delighted us foward-starved supporters in equal measure. Once Mr Gyan went swanning off to test himself in the notoriously tough UAE league last season, we were painfully exposed as having no end product. Seeing Fletcher poking home a scrappy looking goal from a ball into the box was as satisfying as seeing him execute that poor backpass with the ultimate punishment. How we’ve missed a proper striker.

Some of us never doubted the abilities of Fletcher and it’s likely that those who couldn’t wait to laugh or cry at the transfer fee will soon find another daft moan.

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