Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has claimed Adam Johnson's dramatic upturn in form is down to the club using him tactically to get the best out of him.
Poyet's men won three games in six days last week beating Manchester United, Carlisle and Fulham which has put a much brighter outlook on their season to date.
Gus Poyet told Sky Sports: "You cannot just give him the ball and expect him to deal with everybody every time he gets the ball, because that doesn't suit a player, apart from the Messi's and company.
"And remember Messi does it because he is playing in a team where they keep the ball forever, so they give him the time to rest and walk and then when he gets it and is fresh, he goes past people."
Adam Johnson has revived the early promise he showed at former clubs Middlesbrough and Manchester City in recent weeks.
An impressive substitute performance against Manchester United was backed up last weekend by a superb hat-trick at Craven Cottage against Fulham.
If Johnson can maintain this kind of form on a regular basis than he may end up forcing his way into England's World Cup squad - particularly with Theo Walcott now looking certain to miss the tournament.
Poyet added: "If he is a player who can do things individually, you need to use him well."
The Black Cats have clawed their way back into contention for survival with two wins in their last four Premier League outings.
Sunderland will host Southampton tomorrow afternoon in the first game of the weekend with a win putting them fifteenth in the table.
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