Sunderland say Adam Johnson available for selection despite sexual charges
Published 24/04/2015 | 13:58
Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat has confirmed that winger Adam Johnson will be available for selection for the Barclays Premier League game against Stoke on Saturday.
Johnson, 27, was on Thursday charged with three offences of sexual activity with a child under 16 and one of grooming.
Advocaat said: "He still has to come in, but in principle if he feels okay, then he will be a member of the squad."
A club statement 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 was arrested at his Castle Eden home in County Durham on March 2 and was initially suspended by the club as police investigated the allegations against him.
The club suspension was later lifted and he has played brief roles in each of Advocaat's games to date, the defeats at West Ham and at home to Crystal Palace either side of a derby victory over Newcastle.
Johnson was charged after answering bail at Peterlee Police Station, and is due to appear at the County Durham town's Magistrates' Court on May 20, the day Sunderland are due to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Sunderland stand just a point clear of the relegation zone and are in dire need of an upturn in on-field fortunes to steer clear of danger.
At his best, Johnson, who joined the club in a £10million switch from Manchester City in August 2012, could prove a key figure in that fight, although his form has been patchy during his spell on Wearside.
The players' union, the Professional Footballers' Association, has urged people to allow justice to take its course.
A PFA statement said: "Given that this is an ongoing legal matter, it would not be appropriate to comment specifically on the case. However, we would emphasise that just like any other individual, Adam is entitled to a fair hearing.
"We are not in a position to make any further comment."