Wickham hopes to reclaim Sunderland shirt

Connor Wickham in action for Sunderland during their 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion. Picture by FRANK REID
Connor Wickham in action for Sunderland during their 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion. Picture by FRANK REID

CONNOR Wickham is looking to rediscover some consistency to reclaim a regular place in the Sunderland XI.

Wickham has alternated between an inside forward role and his favoured central striker position during his first full season as a Premier League regular, and that constant switching has perhaps taken its toll over recent weeks.

It’s down to me to show the manager I’m capable of playing every week

Sunderland’s Connor Wickham

The 21-year-old has started just one of Sunderland’s last four games, with Danny Graham preferred for last week’s draw at fellow strugglers Hull.

But Wickham, who signed a new four year deal in December, has proven this season that he is capable of troubling the Premier League’s best defenders and is eager to make an impact, regardless of which position he is used in by Gus Poyet.

Wickham said: “It’s down to me to adapt and show the manager I’m capable of playing every week.

“Maybe the performances lately haven’t warranted that.

“But I’m confident in myself. I speak to the manager, work hard in training and there’s competition for places.

“It’s down to me and my individual work ethic to put myself back in the team.

“You have to be able to adapt and do a job at the time.

“The manager has asked me since the start of the season to play out wide and get up and down the pitch.

“I think at times I’ve done it well and at times I haven’t coped as well.

“But I’m confident playing in that position and if he asked me to do it again in the coming weeks, I’d be happy to do it.”

After making a positive impression from the bench at Hull, Wickham is in contention to start this weekend’s Stadium of Light clash against Aston Villa, with the visitors just one place and one point behind Sunderland in the relegation dogfight.

Sunderland have been unable to take a decisive step away from danger in recent games after failing to get the better of fellow strugglers QPR, West Brom and Hull.

But Wickham insists there is no sense of panic in the Sunderland dressing room, with Poyet’s men still four points clear of danger and managing to avoid dropping into the bottom three all season.

“I don’t think the players are even thinking about it,” added the England Under-21 international.

“With one win, we could be seven points clear.

“It’s just down to a case of picking up points where we can.

“The next two games (Villa and away at West Ham) are definitely ones we can win and then we can go into the international break positive.

“But the next two are massive for us.

“We’re not the only team in this position and there’s teams worse off than us.

“We just need to make sure that we overcome some of these teams.”