Connor Wickham set to start for Sunderland for rest of season after two-goal blast at Man City

HAPPY DAYS: Sunderland's Connor Wickham celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match in front of the away fans
HAPPY DAYS: Sunderland's Connor Wickham celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match in front of the away fans

CONNOR Wickham will stay in Sunderland’s starting XI if he continues to show top form, Gus Poyet has vowed.

The England Under 21 international followed up an excellent display against Everton at the weekend with two goals at Manchester City.

And Poyet insisted that although he might have had several international strikers when he took over, Wickham has earned his shot.

“When I got to to the club there were five or six strikers,” Poyet said in the wake of the 2-2 draw against City. “It was impossible to play them all. I had to make decisions.

“Connor was young so I let him go out on loan and he did well so we brought him back.

“But if he delivers, he keeps playing – it’s that simple. It’s all about performing.”

While Poyet was pleased with Sunderland’s efforts at one end of the pitch, he was disappointed at the other where Vito Mannone might have done better for the first and was completely at fault for the second City goal.

“I know,” sighed Poyet, who was conscious of how well Mannone has performed overall.

“The hardest part is that Vito has been wonderful this season and now he feels terrible.

“But it doesn’t change my mind about him – what happened to him against City happened. He needs to recover quickly and look forward.”

l MATCH report and reaction: Page 47