Turner backs Bruce to handle Sunderland ace Wickham

Michael Turner (left) and Connor Wickham
Michael Turner (left) and Connor Wickham
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MICHAEL Turner today backed Sunderland boss Steve Bruce to take care of off-the-mark Connor Wickham.

Wickham broke his Premier League duck in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa after the £8million summer signing was handed a first start at the Stadium of Light.

But the 18-year-old’s place is under threat for Saturday’s trip to Manchester United despite impressing in back-to-back appearances in the starting XI.

Bruce will be tempted to revert to a five-man midfield for the clash with his former club, with Wickham’s gentle introduction to the top flight continuing on the bench.

Centre-half Turner told the Echo: “I’m sure the manager knows how to deal with a young lad like Connor, coming here with a big fee.

“Everyone’s pleased for Connor to get his first goal after doing really well on his first start at Bolton. Hopefully his confidence will keep rising and we can see some great things from him.

“I’m sure scoring will be a big boost for him. He’s come off the bench most games at the start of the season and he’s got a bright future for this club.

“He shows bits and pieces in training where you think ‘wow’. But it’s important he plays and shows some consistency. If he keeps scoring goals, he’ll be a big player for the club.”

Sunderland face the reigning Premier League champions at an inopportune moment, with United desperate to avenge their 6-1 thrashing at the hands of neighbours Manchester City in their last Old Trafford outing.

But Bruce’s side are at least buoyed by taking four points from their last two outings after the late comeback against Villa.

Turner believes it was crucial Sunderland avoided defeat against the Villans after registering only a second win of the season at Bolton seven days earlier.

“It was important we didn’t get beat against Villa, who are just a few points ahead of us,” added the 27-year-old.

“We can go into the Man United game on the back of two unbeaten and take confidence from that. We showed some character against Villa by coming from behind twice. It shows what we’re all about and that we all want to do well for this club.

“Man United is a game everyone looks forward to. It’s a great place to play against one of the best teams in the league.

“I’m sure we’ll set out a game plan this week to take into the game and hopefully we can do well.”