CONNOR Wickham’s future will be decided when he returns from his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.
But Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has brushed off suggestions that the Black Cats have decided to allow the England Under-21 striker to leave the Stadium of Light on a permanent deal.
Wickham has netted four goals in six games since joining Wednesday on loan last month, despite the managerless Owls lying second bottom of the Championship.
Reports last week indicated Sunderland were willing to offload Wickham permanently in the January transfer window, if they were able to recoup a sizeable wedge of the £8million they splashed out for the 20-year-old in the summer of 2011.
But Poyet has denied Sunderland have reached such a conclusion and plans to hold talks with Wickham when his loan expires on New Year’s Day, albeit he could return to Wearside sooner if the Black Cats activate the 24-hour recall clause in the deal.
The head coach told SportMail: “Nothing’s been decided, although it’s not something I would usually comment on.
“But we haven’t even talked about that (a permanent departure).
“He needs to play and after he gets back from loan, we will talk with him as well.
“We knew he needed to play a few games and we’re keeping an eye on him.”
Wickham spent a month on loan at Hillsborough last season and despite interest from several other Championship clubs – including leaders Burnley – he opted to re-join Wednesday after Poyet sanctioned his departure.
The Owls are not expected to appoint a successor to the sacked Dave Jones before the weekend.
But caretaker boss Stuart Gray, who wants the job on a permanent basis, indicated last week that he would be keen to extend Wickham’s loan.
“We were grateful that Sunderland allowed him to come back and he’s a man now,” said Gray.
“He was a boy last season, but he’s fitter, stronger and hungry for goals.
“He’s not our player so we are always running the risk of him being called back by Sunderland. He has got a few goals in the last few games.
“He’s benefited from having a good pre-season, he is looking strong and Sheffield Wednesday are benefiting from that.
“He’s our player on loan, at this moment in time it’s just fingers crossed we can do something in January.”