ADAM JOHNSON'S slow start to life at Sunderland has cost him his place in the England squad after Roy Hodgson opted for Liverpool's rising wing talent Raheem Sterling instead.
After being left as an unused substitute for the World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Poland last month, Johnson has not managed to find top form in the four Black Cats matches since.
It will be a blow to the Easington-born winger whose decision to turn his back on Premier League champions Manchester City in the summer was partly down to his international frustrations.
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Johnson had hoped to have been involved in the summer's Euro 2012 squad and when he was overlooked by Hodgson it made him more determined to start a new chapter in his career.
The £10m winger had to pull out of the squad for the qualifiers with Moldova and the Ukraine in September because of a thigh injury.
But he was recalled after returning to fitness on Wearside for the trip to his former club Manchester City on October 6.
Since then, though, he has not looked to be at peak match fitness and has been struggling to find his feet in a Sunderland shirt after having other teams put at least two men on him on the wing.
And as he battles to recapture the sort of form which persuaded Martin O'Neill to pay big for him in August, Hodgson has turned to Liverpool's Sterling instead for next week's friendly with Sweden.
Sterling was drafted into squad for the World Cup qualifier with Ukraine in September, which was a late call-up after a string of injuries.
"He's done extremely well for Liverpool," said Hodgson, who has also overlooked City's experienced midfielder Gareth Barry. "He burst onto the scene at the start of the season and has been ever-present in recent games.
"It would seem to me, having played at every level for England so far, it must be Raheem's hope that he's going to represent his country at national team level and he's on the threshold of doing that."
Johnson's cause was also knocked by the return to fitness of Manchester United winger Ashley Young, along with a first call-up for Everton's Leon Osman.
Former Newcastle goalkeeper Fraser Forster has again been called up following his excellent showing for Celtic in their Champions League victory over Barcelona on Wednesday night.
And Hodgson - who recalled Jack Wilshere following a 17-month absence - has confirmed Arsenal defender Carl Jenkinson will be drafted into his squad for next week's friendly with Sweden, providing FIFA clearance is received on time.
Jenkinson was a surprise omission from Hodgson's 23-man squad. However, it transpired the move relates to red-tape wrangling given the player's previous appearance at youth level for Finland, and Hodgson hopes to rectify that prior to the Stokholm visit.
* Sunderland midfielder David Meyler has joined Hull City on loan until the end of the year.