Sunderland’s Wickham being monitored by Sheffield Wednesday

WE'RE TO BLAME ... Connor Wickham.
WE'RE TO BLAME ... Connor Wickham.

SHEFFIELD Wednesday are monitoring Connor Wickham’s situation at Sunderland to see if there is a possibility of re-signing the striker on loan.

Wickham spent a month on loan with the Owls last season after being confined to a fringe role in Martin O’Neill’s plans at the Stadium of Light, and he made a positive impression on Wednesday boss Dave Jones.

Despite only netting once in six appearances, Jones was keen to extend the England Under-21 striker’s stay at Hillsborough, only for O’Neill to eventually decide to bring the 20-year-old back to Wearside.

Wednesday have maintained their interest in Wickham and are keeping a close eye on how the £8million frontman fits into Paolo Di Canio’s plans.

Wickham started two of Di Canio’s seven games in charges and came on at half-time against Southampton after spending a month on the sidelines with a groin injury.

But Wickham’s mentality came in for criticism from Di Canio, who compared the former Ipswich man to a “Playboy model”.

“Maybe with this guy I have to slap his face a little bit,” said Di Canio.

“I’m talking about motivating him in a genuine way because he has so much potential.”

Wickham laughed off those comments this week and said he was looking forward to returning to Wearside next month and continuing his development under Di Canio.

But Wednesday are desperate to boost their strike options after finishing last season with two loan players up front – Swansea’s Leroy Lita and Hartlepool veteran Steve Howard.

Another loan to the Championship is only likely to become a possibility though if Sunderland can significantly boost their forward options this summer.

Di Canio has publicly stressed that he wants five frontmen at his disposal next season and the Black Cats currently only boast four – Wickham, Steven Fletcher, Danny Graham and Stephane Sessegnon – albeit Ji Dong-won’s future remains undecided.

While Sunderland have agreed Bosman deals for Valentin Roberge, Modibo Diakite and Cabral, and are chasing Argentine left-back Lucas Orban, they are still to boost their striking ranks.

Livorno’s Brazilian frontman Paulinho has been linked in a £6.5million move, although Sampdoria are favourites to land the 27-year-old.

Wickham will hope that an impressive European Under-21 Championships can help his cause under Di Canio after starting Wednesday’s night opening group game against Italy.

England now face a make-or-break encounter against Norway tomorrow night, where Stuart Pearce’s side realistically need to emerge victorious if they are to qualify for the tournament’s knock-out stages.