SHEFFIELD Wednesday remain hopeful of bolstering their front-line before next Thursday’s emergency loan deadline, with Sunderland striker Connor Wickham still in their sights.
But any prospect of Wednesday agreeing a move for Wickham will depend on whether Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill finally relents in allowing the striker to leave the Stadium of Light on loan.
Sunderland have received several inquiries over Wickham’s availability since the start of the season, including from one Premier League club prior to the August transfer deadline.
Championship outfits have continued to pursue the 19-year-old on loan since August 31, including his former employers, Ipswich Town.
But Wednesday emerged over the weekend as a potential destination for the £8million striker, with the Owls in need of reinforcements after sinking to just two points above the Championship drop zone.
Boss Dave Jones is understood to be firmly interested in Wickham and attempted to free a space on the wage bill this week when Barnsley inquired about forward Chris O’Grady, only for the move to fall through when he suffered an injury.
Wednesday are running out of time, though, with just seven days of the emergency loan window remaining and no deal understood to be imminent.
So far O’Neill has opted to keep Wickham on Wearside, although he hinted last week that the England Under-21 frontman could now be given the chance for regular first-team football after allowing midfielder David Meyler to join Hull City.
But the big question for Wickham’s suitors is whether O’Neill will sanction a move, particularly after the teenager made his first appearance of the season in last weekend’s defeat at Everton.
Doubts over Steven Fletcher’s fitness for Sunday’s trip to Fulham hve only further dampened the chances of Wickham heading out on loan.
Wickham has impressed O’Neill in training recently and has been in profitable form for the England U21s after notching his third goal in four internationals in Tuesday’s victory over Northern Ireland.
“It’s important for me to score. I had quite a few chances on Tuesday and luckily one went in,” said Wickham.
“It’s just down to me to prove to the manager (U21s boss Stuart Pearce) that I can stake a claim in the team and keep my performances going and scoring goals.”