ENGLAND Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate has assured Sunderland striker Connor Wickham that he can fight his way back into international contention.
Wickham has been left out of Southgate’s last two squads after being a regular under the former Middlesbrough manager’s predecessor Stuart Pearce.
But the £8million frontman, who featured at the summer’s U21 European Championships, was watched by Southgate at Derby County last week after the 20-year-old joined Championship Sheffield Wednesday on loan earlier this month.
And Southgate says that is evidence that the likes of Wickham, who has made seven first-team appearances for Sunderland this season, still have a part to play in his plans.
“I was at Derby and saw Connor play for Sheff Wed last week,” said Southgate.
“The door is always open for people that are playing well and want to be part of it and see this as a big part of their football learning.
“We’re always looking to improve the quality of the squad and if there are players we think can improve it, then anybody with us who doesn’t quite reach the required level has a challenge on their hands.”