Adam Johnson fears his World Cup dream will be over if he is not included in Roy Hodgson's England squad to face Denmark next week.
Hodgson will name a 32-man squad for the international friendly on Thursday that will be seen as his biggest sign yet of those likely to go to Brazil in the summer.
Johnson, who has scored seven goals in his last nine games for Sunderland, has not featured in a squad since he was an unused substitute in a World Cup qualifier against Poland in 2012.
However, his recent form has caught the eye of the England manager, who travelled to the North-east for the first time since he succeeded Fabio Capello, when Sunderland faced Hull at the Stadium of Light earlier this month.
"It all depends on this next squad," said Johnson. "If you're going to have a chance of going, then you're going to have to be there or thereabouts. There's that many players to choose from, and people in and out of form or injured.
"There's a long way to go, and a lot of things that can still happen, but as an England player you're always going to have half an eye on a World Cup in Brazil.
"It's all been down to my form really, and everyone talking about me again. That puts it back in your mind. I've always thought that it would be great to go to the World Cup and this is probably the closest I've been to being back involved with the squad again. That's great.
"Last year, with not playing and being a bit low, I was more concentrating with getting back to playing my best here rather than concentrating on something that was probably a fair way away at the time. Now, it's amazing how things change so quickly in football."
Johnson, who has missed out on the last two major international tournaments, has previously admitted he moved from Manchester City to Sunderland to further his England ambitions. However, with the club struggling for two seasons, Hodgson has so far overlooked the 26-year-old winger. Injury to Theo Walcott has potentially opened a door at a time when Johnson has struck his best form since returning to the North-east.
Johnson will be back at Wembley on Sunday for the Capital One Cup final. It will be the first time that team-mate Jack Colback has even been to the stadium. Colback is the one home-grown player in the Sunderland side – he was born in North Tyneside and he said: "I've never been there before either as a player or as a fan. It will be great to see what it's like.
"I'm looking forward to going there on the day and taking in the atmosphere. Hopefully we can play well on the day and send our fans home happy.
"I came to Sunderland initially when I was nine but at that age I thought I was still a bit too young. I came back to Sunderland a second time and felt it was the right time to do so.
"They said there was an opportunity to be part of the academy and I took it. I never thought twice about it. Obviously parts of my family support Newcastle, but they certainly weren't going to tell me not to sign for Sunderland. It was an opportunity I had to take. It was a massive chance for me.
"Manchester City have got world-class players all over the pitch so we know how tough it will be. If we go out with a bit of confidence and play well we could upset the odds."
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