STEVE Bruce insists Sunderland’s £8million outlay on untried Connor Wickham will prove to be money well spent.
Wickham became the fourth most expensive signing in Sunderland’s history when he moved from Ipswich Town last month, with the fee potentially rising to as much as £12m.
Despite Wickham being rated as one of the hottest prospects in English football, the 18-year-old is yet to make his Premier League bow and has only made 33 starts in the Championship.
But Black Cats boss Bruce is confident the England U21 man represents good value after Sunderland beat off competition from Liverpool and Spurs to land the striker.
Likewise, Bruce believes Sunderland will be beneficial for Wickham, with the targetman handed the chance of top flight first-team football.
Bruce said: “He’s got bags and bags of potential. When you’re buying potential, of course there’s always a risk.
“But I’m convinced that he’s going to be a top player.
“He provides something different. He’s 6ft 3in at 18.
“You have to remember he’s 18. But I’m convinced he’ll be a fantastic signing for Sunderland.”
He added: “I flew Connor and his dad out to Portugal a couple of weeks ago and laid down what we planned for him.
“He thought this was the best stage of his development to come here, feature and play. That was the big thing for him, the chance to play frequently.
“He’s got a good chance here with us.”
Bruce may well opt to bring in another striker before the August transfer deadline to complement Asamoah Gyan, Wickham and fellow new boy Ji Dong-won.
Gyan is the only one of the trio who is proven in the Premier League and Bruce will continue to monitor Danny Welbeck’s position at Manchester United in the hope that Sunderland can secure another season-long loan.
But Bruce believes that in 6ft 3in Wickham and 6ft 2in Ji, Sunderland have bought two powerful strikers who will complement Gyan.
“In the Korean boy and Connor Wickham, they’re both physically big and they will lead the line,” added Bruce.
“They’re young and they haven’t played at this level before which is always a risk.
“But for the future of the club, I’m convinced they’re two very good young players that can only serve the club well for years.”