ADAM Johnson is back in contention for Sunderland’s trip to West Ham this weekend after PFA talks over his return.
Johnson can play a part in Sunderland’s bid to remain in the Premier League after the Black Cats yesterday confirmed that his club suspension has been lifted.
The 27-year-old has been forced to train at home since he was arrested by police earlier this month on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under 16, but he is now back at the Academy of Light working under new Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat.
Johnson, whose bail was this week extended until April 23, could not be suspended indefinitely by Sunderland, due to the PFA stipulations in his contract.
Neither are the club able to banish him to train with the development squad or Under-18s.
Following talks with the PFA, Johnson has returned to first-team duties, with the Black Cats having to wait until the outcome of the legal investigation before conducting their own inquiries and any subsequent potential disciplinary action.
Johnson could come straight back into the fold for this Saturday’s trip to West Ham after playing a part in training yesterday.
But Advocaat, appointed earlier this week for the final nine games of the season, must decide whether Johnson is mentally ready for the spotlight of the Premier League.
However, Johnson has been one of Sunderland’s top performers since the turn of the year and still tops the scoring charts this season with five goals.
Sunderland’s statement yesterday read: “The club has discussed the current position in detail with both the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) and Adam’s representatives.
“In line with those discussions we recognise that the player is entitled to re-commence his duties with the club while the legal process continues.
“He will therefore return to training.
“The club’s own investigation cannot continue until the conclusion of the legal process.
“Sunderland AFC will make no further comment on the matter due to the ongoing police investigation.”