Adam Johnson
Sunderland's Adam Johnson is due to appear in court in May to face the charges (Getty Images/Laurence Griffiths)

Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson has been charged with four child sex offences involving a girl under the age of 16.

The Premiership midfielder is accused of three counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of grooming after answering bail at Peterlee police station.

Johnson was initially arrested on 2 March on suspicion of child sex offences. The 27-year-old will now appear at Peterlee Magistrates Court on 20 May to face the charges,

A Durham Police spokesperson said: "Adam Johnson, a professional footballer aged 27 from Castle Eden, County Durham, has this afternoon been charged with three offences of sexual activity with a child under 16 years old, plus one offence of grooming."

Gerry Wareham, from the Crown Prosecution Service, added: "May I remind all concerned that the defendant has a right to a fair trial.

"It is very important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.

"I would also remind people that the complainant in this case is entitled to lifelong anonymity under the law. For these reasons, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further."

Johnson, who has previously played for Manchester City and Middlesbrough, has been capped 12 times for England, scoring two goals.