Dick Advocaat defends Sunderland's decision to make Adam Johnson available for selection
Published 25/04/2015 | 12:02
Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat has insisted it was not a difficult decision to include Adam Johnson in his squad for Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Stoke.
Advocaat has confirmed the 27-year-old midfielder, who was charged with three offences of sexual activity with a child under 16 and one of grooming on Thursday, remains available for selection with the club reviewing the situation.
For the time being at least, the Black Cats' position remains unchanged, and that means Johnson, who has been used as a substitute in the last three games, can play on as Sunderland battle relegation.
Asked if it was a difficult situation for a coach, Advocaat replied: "No, because the club made a statement about it and I stay behind that, and we will wait and see what the future will bring.
"He still has to come in, but in principle if he feels okay, then he will be a member of the squad. If he's in the squad, then I will consider him for selection, otherwise he would not be in the squad."
Johnson has already been the target of unsavoury chants from fans of rival clubs, but Advocaat is confident that will not be an issue during the final weeks of the season.
He said: "No, I don't think so."
Advocaat's comments came after Sunderland released a statement outlining their position on the matter.
It said: "Following yesterday's statement from Durham Constabulary, the club recognises that the formal legal process must take its course and whilst our position remains unchanged, we will keep the matter under review.
"The club will not be making any further comment."
Johnson is due to appear at Peterlee Magistrates' Court on May 20 - the Black Cats face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium that evening - but in theory, should be available to play in the other five games Sunderland have in which to preserve their top-flight status.
Advocaat's side currently sit 16th in the table, but just a point clear of the bottom three, and he has set them a target of at least six points to avoid the drop.
In the circumstances, he needs all the players he can get, and especially a man who cost £10million when he arrived from Manchester City during the summer of 2012.
Johnson's continued presence could prove all the more important after the Dutchman revealed that striker Steven Fletcher travelled to London on Friday to consult a specialist over a troublesome ankle injury.