Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Boro Face Battle to Hang on to Top Scorer Johnson; Toffees to Test Boro's Resolve

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Boro Face Battle to Hang on to Top Scorer Johnson; Toffees to Test Boro's Resolve

Article excerpt

Byline: ERIC PAYLOR

EVERTON are ready to test Boro's resolve with a big bid for Adam Johnson in January.

Toffees boss David Moyes and his leading coaches were all at Deepdale on Saturday to watch the livewire Boro winger in action.

Johnson did not disappoint, scoring a terrific solo goal and causing occasional havoc with his searing runs.

Moyes and his colleagues could not fail to have been impressed.

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce also ran the rule over Johnson in the home game against Derby last week.

But Boro will try to resist overtures for the 22-year-old, even though he is out of contract in the summer.

If Boro can hold their nerve and hang on to Johnson, then it could be the difference between automatic promotion or not.

And if Boro do return to the Premier League, they will hope to convince the former England Under-21 international to stay put.

New boss Gordon Strachan will realise very quickly that he has an absolute gem on his hands.

Johnson's super strike took his total for the campaign so far to nine, which makes him Boro's top scorer by some considerable distance. Boro coach Colin Cooper enthused: "I'm not surprised that Adam Johnson has his suitors.

"His goal was terrific. The boy is going places, that's for sure.

"He's a very, very talented player and we are trying very hard to get him to commit himself to the club for the long term.

"Obviously it's increasingly difficult, but the great thing about it is that Adam doesn't let any of these outside pressures affect him.

"He just gets on with his game and we're absolutely delighted that he's scored nine goals for us already.

"With so much of the season still to come he's got to be looking for a minimum of 15, and that would be a terrific achievement for a midfield player who was not a regular in the side last season. …

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