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Aug, 27, 2012

O'Neill wants to see best of Adam Johnson

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill says he wants to help England winger Adam Johnson reach the peak of his game after signing him from Manchester City.

Johnson, 25, joined Sunderland for an undisclosed fee on Friday, agreeing a four-year deal at the Stadium of Light.

Speaking to the Journal, O'Neill said: "Adam is a very, very exciting player - top quality. He has vitality and brilliance. We're going to try to get the very best out of him.

"I hope he doesn't think that every time he gets the ball that there's going to be a goal at the end of it or something like that. But he'll excite people - that's the thing about Adam."

O'Neill also urged his side to score more goals while maintaining the grit that enabled them to get out of trouble last season, saying: "We need to score some goals and get a bit of excitement at the football club.

"Last season we showed great determination to pull out of the quagmire, and we need that still. Now we can add a wee bit of quality to the team, which serves everyone well - the supporters, for a start.

"Obviously they get excited about the team, and it's good for the players, too. They are desperate for these boys to play well because it enhances their own game."

Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole, and Johnson, were team-mates at Middlesbrough after coming through the academy ranks together at the Riverside.

"Johnno is a great talent, always has been,'' Cattermole told the club's official website. "He has that ability to go past players and our fans will really like him. I'm sure he'll do great with us and I think he'll find a lot more space and grass in front of him than he was used to at Man City.

Johnson grew up in the north-east, and his return is a massive boost to the Sunderland faithful.

"Adam will love the challenge of playing here and is from the area too. I spoke to him (about the move) and told him he will love it at Sunderland. He's a great lad too and will fit in no problem. I'm sure we'll see that in his performances. It's funny - everyone seems to go their own way in football and move round clubs, so it's great to be playing alongside him again.''

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