GUS Poyet says the decision to let Connor Wickham leave on loan to Leeds United yesterday was the right one for all concerned.
The move came as something of a surprise to many Sunderland fans who thought the England Under-21 striker deserved more of a chance in the Black Cats’ first team.
And there was disappointment elsewhere in Yorkshire, with Leeds’ fellow Championship side Sheffield Wednesday having been confident that if the 20-year-old was going to go out on loan again he would be returning to Hillsborough.
Wickham scored eight goals in 11 appearances for the Owls earlier this season and Sunderland head coach Poyet admits there were plenty of clubs willing to take on the bustling young forward.
“Connor really, really enjoyed his time at Sheffield Wednesday and wanted to be playing regularly,” explained the Black Cats’ head coach.
“It was difficult for us to promise that to him and there was no shortage of clubs that wanted to take him – maybe five or six.
“So, after analysing the whole situation and agreeing with the player – which is important, because he has to be happy with the arrangement – he has gone out to Leeds for the rest of the season.
“I hope that he can help them do well because they still have a chance of the play-offs – and for Connor, and for us, that we get back a better player next season.”
The impending return of Steven Fletcher, the January signing of Ignacio Scocco and the emergence of Fabio Borini’s attacking threat have all combined to result inthe Wearsiders allowing Wickham’s departure.
“I think a lot of things are coming together, including Fletcher coming back,” acknowledged Poyet.
“We also have everybody fit and that means Connor’s not assured of being in the squad week in, week out.
“So to say no to a club like Leeds would not have been fair on him.
“He is a player who still needs to learn and will only benefit by playing games regularly.”
Wickham had been recalled to the Stadium of Light last month from Wednesday after doubts over Steven Fletcher’s fitness left Sunderland short on strikers. The England Under-21 international made two appearances from the bench after returning to Wearside – against Hull City in the league and Southampton in the FA Cup.
Now, the striker, who scored in Wednesday’s memorable 6-0 Hillsborough thrashing of Leeds last month, could make his debut on Saturday when Brian McDermott’s side visit QPR.
Leeds are only seven points adrift of the play-offs, with 15 matches to play.
Wickham said: “The potential here is big. There are some players I know already and the team is looking to push towards the play-offs. Hopefully I can help with that.
“I just want to play football, do the best I can and hopefully push the team into the promotion picture.”
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