EARLIER this week, former Sunderland midfielder George Honeyman was named as the best player in League One by Four Four Two magazine, who conducted a poll of supporters at all 72 Football League clubs.

Lee Johnson wasn’t at the Stadium of Light when Honeyman departed for Hull, but he respects the Prudhoe-born playmaker’s capabilities and his impact at a Hull side that currently top the table. Nevertheless, when it comes to singling out midfielders in League One, Johnson feels that one player stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Since his restoration to the team at the start of December, Aiden McGeady has served up 12 assists, more than any other player in the third tier, and scored four goals, the most recent of which was a superb direct free-kick that secured Sunderland a point at Peterborough on Easter Monday.

The 35-year-old has helped transform the effectiveness of the Black Cats’ attacking play, and formed a potent partnership with striker Charlie Wyke, who has benefited from his deadly delivery into the box.

Honeyman might have his admirers and Jonson Clarke-Harris might top the League One goalscoring charts, but when it comes to making a match-winning impact, Johnson would want to swap McGeady for any other player in the division.

“Aiden would be in my team of the year, that’s for sure, if I was picking one,” said the Sunderland boss. “But then so would quite a few of our boys, if I’m honest.

“He’s an exciting player, isn’t he? When he’s fed in that little half-space position, and can face somebody up, you can feel your whole body lift up. Your eyes widen, your pupils dilate and you’re thinking, ‘Right, go on then, I’m looking forward to seeing the result of this’.

“I think that’s what you want, isn’t it? As a fan you want that, as a reporter you want that sort of quality to be able to lift you off your seat. We’ve had that with (Jordan) Jones at times as well, but certainly McGeady has got it, and there’s nothing like a cross and a header for a fan. It’s that anticipation of, ‘Is someone going to get on the end of it’, and Charlie’s (Wyke) obviously scored a fair few headers. You’ve got to get the service, and we’ve had a fair few of those nice moments.”

McGeady will be back in the starting line-up today as Sunderland look to keep their automatic-promotion hopes on track with a win over Charlton.

The Black Cats start the weekend two points adrift of second-placed Peterborough, with a game in hand, and five points behind league leaders Hull City, with two games in hand on the Tigers.

Win every game between now and the end of the season, and they will finish the campaign as champions, and while things are rarely as simple as that, Sunderland will increase the pressure on those around them with every three points they can chalk off.

“The aim is to keep winning,” said Johnson. “We’re respectful of a Charlton side that is full of experience – they’ve got a lot of players in the twilight of their career, but who are still agile and mobile, and are full of experience. People like (Darren) Pratley, (Chris) Gunter and Adam Matthews, who was previously at Sunderland.

“There’s a number of threats there, so we’re going to have to be at our best. But any one game in this division, I’m absolutely confident that we can win. Against anybody in this division, if we’re at it, and we’re focused, sharp and bright and playing to the philosophy, then I think we’ve got the talent and the attitude to go and win.

“We’ve just got to do that as much as possible."