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Johnson backing McClean to rediscover Cats form

ADAM Johnson has backed James McClean to rediscover the form which saw him light up the Premier League in the second half of last season.

McClean endured another difficult afternoon in Saturday's stalemate at Stoke City as Sunderland failed to test the opposition goalkeeper for the third successive outing.

Neither wingers are pulling up trees at the moment for the Black Cats but Johnson, a £10million summer signing from Manchester City, is confident Martin O'Neill men are about to fire.

Johnson said: "I remember when I was coming through. As wingers, you do get games when you get frustrated and you become isolated.

"That can be very frustrating and I could see a bit of that with him, but I think he's strong enough and maybe he needs a bit of encouragement.

"As wingers, you can be seen not to be in the thick of the action as much because you are out wide, but he has the quality to create goals.

"Sometimes you've got to think of other ways to hurt teams. In your second season, people pay more attention to you and you can have two men on you at the same time and that's why teams have been hard to score against.

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has backed captain Lee Cattermole to flourish after he signed a new deal that will keep him on Wearside until 2016.

The 24-year-old midfielder, who joined from Wigan in 2009, was due to be out of contract at the end of the season but secured his long-term future with the Black Cats yesterday.

It serves as a timely boost for Sunderland ahead of tonight's League Cup fourth round derby match against Middlesbrough.

"I think he has excellent potential," O'Neill said of Cattermole.

"I have only got to know him in the last nine or 10 months and during his time on the field he was looking to improve his own game.

"As a consequence of our battles last season he was trying to help everyone around him but maybe he needs to concentrate on his own particular game."