CONNOR Wickham is likely to get a chance to show his worth and help save Sunderland’s season after being recalled from a loan spell at Leeds United.
The England Under 21 international was yesterday called back to the Stadium of Light just a month and five games into a spell at the Championship side which was due to last to the end of the campaign.
There has been talk that the Elland Road outfit could not afford Wickham’s wages, but the recall has been made to expand Gus Poyet’s options with Sunderland struggling for a winning formula.
For tomorrow’s trip to Anfield to face title-chasing Liverpool, Sunderland’s strike options had realistically been down to just one: Jozy Altidore.
With Steven Fletcher struggling with injury, Fabio Borini unable to play against his parent club and Nacho Scocco clearly way short of fitness, Altidore was the only option left to Poyet.
But the American has become a divisive figure with his failure to impress in a Sunderland shirt this season, scoring just one goal in the whole campaign and cutting as anonymous a figure in the 2-0 defeat at Norwich City at the weekend as he had done in his last league outing, the 4-1 defeat at Arsenal.
Wickham’s returns to Sunderland at least offers the head coach an alternative in terms of a muscular front-man who can spearhead the attack.
The Black Cats’ woes deepened at the weekend with the alarmingly poor performance against fellow strugglers Norwich.
And it was the lack of any real threat up front which has perhaps caused Poyet to at least revisit the Wickham option.
The former Ipswich star was brought to Sunderland in an £8m deal in the summer of 2011.
At the time, the teenager was rated as one of the hottest prospects in the game and his strapping physical attributes were obvious.
Question marks over his desire and dedication appear to have held him back with the 6ft 3ins forward failing to nail down a place under either Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Paolo Di Canio or Poyet.
But with Sunderland’s position bordering on the desperate and goalscoring a particular problem, Poyet is leaving no stone unturned in a quest to spark something up front.
At Leeds, Wickham played five games without a goal – although he was being deployed recently on the left-wing to accommodate other strikers.
United manager Brian McDermott said: “We’re disappointed to lose Connor, but I’d like to thank Gus for allowing him to come here.
“He has done extremely well for us, and we wish him well for the future.”
Although Wickham failed to score for Leeds, he scored eight goals in 11 games in a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.
And in the nine Sunderland games he has been involved in this season - coming on in many as a late substitute - he has scored two goals.