He hasn't played since August, due to a niggling groin/abdominal injury. There are frequent reports of his returning to training before breaking down again. But on Deadline Day we turned down an £8million bid for Johnson from Newcastle United. Hughes spoke about this in an interview he gave on Wednesday on mcfctv.com:
"We've said all along we're not in the business of trying to sell our better players. As I've said for a long time, the younger players invariably have a real empathy for the club they're at, if they've come through the ranks, then that empathy is strong and that's something that we want to build the team around in the future. So we're not in the business of just trying to make a quick buck."I think this really cuts to the heart of why many City fans (myself included) want Johnson to stay at City. The idea of building a dynasty around our most talented Academy graduates - Richards, Johnson, Ireland and Sturridge - is incredibly attractive. Not just for sentimental reasons (although these are strong and not entirely to be discounted), but because it's genuinely the best way to build a team. Look at Carragher and Gerrard at Liverpool, Puyol and Xavi at Barcelona and - of course - the Nevilles, Scholes, Beckham and Giggs at Manchester United. This appreciation of a home grown core is one of my favourite things about Mark Hughes.
But an article by Ian Herbert in Thursday's Independent suggests that Johnson may seek a future away from City.
Johnson, who is 21 this month, is privately frustrated by his own image as a rebel – one which is not borne out by him having broken any club curfews, to his mind – and he is coming around to the view that he must leave behind the Manchester goldfish bowl, where his every move is under scrutiny, and make a fresh start if he is to build on the potential which earned him two England under-21 caps.He goes on to write that Johnson started training with the first team in Tenerife but 'broke down almost immediately.' While he claims that Johnson 'is determined to demonstrate his value in the same way that Stephen Ireland has', Herbert correctly points out that the purchase of Nigel de Jong and the moving of Pablo Zabaleta (itself a solution to a question of getting the most out of a talented but slightly troublesome Academy graduate) makes Johnson's regaining his first team place even harder.
I'm almost as eager for Johnson to get fit as I am for Valeri Bozhinov, which means quite a lot.