Sunderland coach Dick Advocaat believes their struggles this term can be partly put down to the absence of Adam Johnson.
Johnson has made just five appearances since being arrested on suspicion of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl in March.
Charges were brought against the winger last month. He will appear before Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on May 20.
Advocaat has put responsibility for Johnson remaining with the squad in the player’s own hands.
And after seeing him play a role in Saturday’s second goal in a 2-0 win at Everton, Advocaat lamented not having Johnson more readily available since replacing Gus Poyet at the Stadium of Light.
“I was really happy for Johnson the way he came in,” Advocaat said.
“A player of his quality has to play every week.
“He can keep a ball, he’s quick he knows the game. Missing that kind of player is a big blow for us.”
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