GUS POYET admits he has not been tempted to bring Nottingham Forest target Connor Wickham back early from his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.
But the Sunderland head coach has been encouraged to see the England Under-21 frontman enjoying a profitable spell at Hillsborough after netting his fifth goal in seven games for the Owls last weekend.
While the Black Cats have been struggling for Premier League goals, Wickham has had no problems finding the net for Wednesday, despite the club’s struggles in the Championship relegation zone.
That form has not gone unnoticed, with reports in the Midlands suggesting Wednesday’s Championship rivals Forest are ready to make a move for Wickham when his loan at Hillsborough expires on New Year’s Day.
Sunderland have had the option to bring the England Under-21 striker back to Wearside before then, but Poyet says staying at Wednesday has been best for Wickham’s development and he will discuss the next step for the 20-year-old at the end of his loan.
Poyet told the Echo: “I don’t want to bring him back because of how we are as a group at the moment.
“But it’s pleasing to see him doing well because I know how frustrating it can be for a player to not have a chance.
“When they go on loan, you don’t know how it’s going to work for them.
“But I’m delighted that he’s scoring and what an important goal and what a goal as well (against Watford last weekend).
“It’s going to be great for him.
“I don’t want to analyse things too much before everything is finished. When he’s finished the loan, we’ll talk.”
Forest are reported to be preparing a loan move, with a view to a permanent deal, for Wickham.
While Wednesday are unlikely to have the financial resources to tempt Sunderland into selling a player who cost £8million in the summer of 2011, Forest are one of the few Championship clubs with deep pockets, thanks to the backing of owner Fawaz Al Hasawi.
There was talk earlier this month that Sunderland are willing to part company with Wickham in the January transfer window.
But Poyet told the Echo last week that Wickham’s future will not be decided until he returns to Wearside after the end of his loan.
Poyet said: “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.”