'England is still burning inside me' - Adam Johnson targets World Cup

The Sunderland winger has been capped 12 times for his country and hopes for a successful club campaign in order to force his way back into Roy Hodgson's thinking for Brazil 2014
Sunderland winger Adam Johnson says that "England is still burning inside me" as he reveals his desperation to play for England at next year's World Cup.

The 26-year-old has been away from the international scene since August 2012 after a frustrating season at the Stadium of Light where injury and inconsistent form limited his international chances.


But now, feeling fitter than he has been for a long time, the ex-Manchester City man hopes that good performances for Sunderland this season will earn him a spot in Roy Hodgson's squad next summer.

"This is probably as good as I've felt for a while now and I'm excited for this season," Johnson told reporters. "Hopefully I'll get even fitter and stronger. The first game [losing 1-0 to Fulham] was a bit of a shock for everybody but I'm sure the team will get better and me personally as well. I'm feeling good.

"England is still burning inside me. It's a massive season for me, just as it is for every player who has represented their country.

"I've said this before but to be on standby for the last two major tournaments and to miss out both times was really disappointing and tough to take, particularly with the way I was playing at the time.

"This is huge for me. There's a massive carrot at the end of the season and, if I can get some good performances and we get the team playing well, then you'd like to think that the England people will take notice.

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"That's how it has to be. I have to do it for Sunderland first. It sounds easy to do, play well, team play well, get in there, but it's not. It's difficult. I saw that last season, when I wasn't playing well individually and the team was struggling, too, that makes it harder for you to find your form."

The former Middlesborough winger thinks that the new tactics employed by Black Cats manager Paolo Di Canio will benefit him this season, as the Italian is more attack-minded than former boss Martin O'Neill.

"This season we're trying to get the ball higher up the field and that helps," Johnson explained, "and my sharpness is definitely a lot better. I feel quicker and stronger in myself.

"I'm driven to prove myself. I've had quite a big taste of that side of things. I know what it takes to be at the top, to win the league, to play for my country.

"I haven't been with England for a while, for a year now but that just drives me on more - not to prove other people wrong so much but to try to play well and get back into that setup. There's a massive reward at the end of it."