Mancini cool on Johnson’s England hopes

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini said the World Cup might come

too early for Adam Johnson after seeing him snatch a point at

Sunderland.

The 22-year-old winger came off the bench to deny his

hometown club a vital three points with an audacious injury-time

equaliser after Kenwyne Jones had nodded Sunderland in front.

Johnson, who spent much of his formative years in the shadow

of England international Stewart Downing at Middlesbrough, has made

a fine start to his career in the north-west since making his

£7million January move to City.

However, Mancini believes he may have to wait for his chance

to join Downing on the senior international stage.

Asked if the World Cup might come too soon for Johnson, the

Italian said: “Adam is a good player, but is a young player.

“I think that in the future, he will be a good player for the

national team, but now I don’t know.

“Maybe, but I don’t know, I don’t decide. I think the England

national team has a good manager and he knows very well Adam

Johnson and he will decide.”

Johnson struck a minute into injury-time to snatch a point

for City as Craig Gordon’s one-man stand was finally broken.

The Scotland international had made five excellent

second-half saves – three of them from Craig Bellamy – to keep City

out, but there was little he could do to deny the local boy at the

death.

Johnson’s curling, dipping shot nestled in the top corner

just as the home fans among a crowd of 41,398 dared to believe

their side had secured back-to-back Barclays Premier League

victories for the first time in 48 games.

Mancini said: “He scored a fantastic goal. I am happy for him

and for us, but before that, we had five or six chances easily to

score a goal. That’s football.

“The Sunderland goalkeeper was fantastic today. He saved

everything.”

It was perhaps inevitable that it was Johnson who broke

Sunderland hearts, just as he did when he opted to join City rather

than them.

Manager Steve Bruce said: “It’s ironic. It would be him, a

Sunderland fan – I can see the headlines.

“We were on his case for months, but unfortunately in the

end, he chose Manchester City, which was obviously disappointing

for us. But there you have it.”

City were poor before the break, but left Wearside just two

points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand.

Mancini said: “There is no change. We have one game in hand,

we must play against Tottenham at home, we must play against Aston

Villa.

“We have 10 games to play and it will all depend on us. But I

think if we want to reach fourth spot, we must win these games.”

Bruce’s disappointment at seeing two points snatched from his

grasp was compounded by the loss of Jones at half-time with a groin

injury which could sideline him for a month.

He said: “The result was possibly a fair result, if I am

being honest, after the second half, but that’s the story of it

[the season].

“We were just getting up a head of steam and getting a

settled team and another one of our big players looks as if he is

going to be out for at least a month.”