IN-FORM Connor Wickham could be the biggest beneficiary of Stephane Sessegnon’s midweek troubles, with the England Under 21 man likely to start at Crystal Palace tomorrow.
Sessegnon was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving on Tuesday night at roughly the same time Wickham was scoring two goals and providing an assist for another, in the 4-2 Capital One Cup win over MK Dons.
And while the exact nature of Tuesday night’s off-field incident has yet to be clarified, Sessegnon has not travelled with the squad today amid rumours he might be rapidly sold on to Qatar club El-Jaish.
That will leave Di Canio to consider his options up front this weekend.
And with Ji Dong-won having had an off-night in the game against the MK Dons, and Steven Fletcher not yet 100 per cent fit, that is expected to leave the door open for Wickham to continue his partnership up front with Jozy Altidore.
Di Canio was pleased with the England Under 21 frontman’s display midweek.
“We did a fantastic job to score four goals, especially the two from Connor,” said the Italian..
“And it was good for him because he also did well when he came on as a substitute against Southampton last weekend.
“I know now that we have in Connor a player who will push and push for a first-team start.”
While Wickham is likely to get the nod this weekend, Di Canio is also buoyed by the fact main striker Fletcher’s first-team return is imminent.
The Scottish international was an unused sub in the cup game – his first appearance on Sunderland’s teamsheet in five months after ankle ligament damage sustained on international duty back in March.
And the Italian noted: “We have Fletcher back, which is very good, and that means I have different options up front.
“Fletcher was on the bench against MK Dons and it might not be for another couple of weeks before he is ready to play properly, but it does not mean he will not travel with us this weekend.
“He trained hard after the game on Tuesday and again on Wednesday and Thursday, so he will come with us to Crystal Palace.”
Sessegnon’s middle east switch should progress quite smoothly.
Di Canio refused to comment on the situation surrounding the 29-year-old striker.
Di Canio told reporters at the Academy of Light in his pre-match Crystal Palace Press conference: “I have nothing to say about Sess.
“We will see what happens, and then I can tell you my feelings.But now I am focused totally on the next game.”
Further questions surrounding the issue were rebuffed but given the Sunderland head coach’s hardline position on any lapses of discipline or club protocol it is extremely unlikely that he would have been in forgiving mood after Sessegnon’s problems on Tuesday.