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Poyet: Johnson has a big part to play

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet believes midfielder Adam Johnson can play a "massive" part in the Black Cats' bid to claw their way out of the Premier League relegation zone.

Poyet's men head to Fulham today still on a high from their midweek League Cup heroics against Manchester United, in which Johnson played a crucial role in coming off the bench to win the penalty which secured a famous 2-1 win.

Johnson's positive performance followed on from his match-winning display in the FA Cup third round win over Carlisle last Sunday and suggested he could be ready to rediscover the form which convinced the club to sign him for £10m from Manchester City in August 2012.

Poyet said: "When you have got a player like Adam who is on good form, the chance that you will stay in the Premier League is massive.

"Adam has started the year fantastically and he made my day the other day so I am looking forward to seeing him stay on that level. I have seen him happier and more relaxed and really going for it. When we told him what we wanted him to do, he gave us all we wanted to see."

Johnson could have earned himself a place in the starting line-up for the trip to one of his side's chief relegation rivals which Poyet conceded could go some way towards determining the respective fates of the two sides this season.

The Uruguayan revealed this week he is on the verge of making Argentinian defender Santiago Vergini his second signing of the January transfer window following the rival of Marcos Alonso, who made his debut in midweek.