Mancini plays down Johnson hopes

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 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. 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.” Sunderland goalkeeper Gordon admitted there was no

stopping Johnson’s equaliser, curled beautifully into the top

corner. “It was an unbelievable finish, right in the top corner,”

said the Scot. “Nobody’s keeping that one out.” He added: “They put

us under an awful lot of pressure, in the second half especially.

To get so close is a disappointment.” Defender Michael Turner,

meanwhile, conceded City deserved a draw. “Craig pulled out four,

five great saves in the second half,” he said. “I think on the

balance of play they deserved a point.”