CONNOR Wickham says Sunderland have to be much better against Groningen tomorrow than they were against Seongnam on Thursday.
The Black Cats striker left the Suwon Stadium bitterly disappointed to lose 1-0 to the South Koreans – convinced Sunderland had the beating of the K League side.
And he wants the Black Cats to go out on a high this weekend by producing a performance to be proud of.
“None of us are happy with the Seongnam result,” he said.
“I know that there are things that can be said in our favour – maybe that Seongnam raised their game and that they are halfway through their season while we’re just a few days into our pre-season. But to me that’s no excuse.
“We’re a Premier League side and we should have given a better account of ourselves than we did.
“No disrespect to them, but we should have imposed ourselves more.
“I think they played well, but we should have done better and we need to put that right.”
On another day, Wickham might have ended up with a goal and an assist – a shot from the striker was palmed on to the bar while a great cross to Fraizer Campbell was not converted from close range.
And that’s the sort of impact the 19-year-old is trying to make in games during his second season at Sunderland.
An £8m buy from Ipswich Town a year ago, Sunderland’s then manager Steve Bruce was investing in potential when he fought off interest from Liverpool to bring the 6ft 3ins forward to the Stadium of Light.
Wickham was playing England Under 21 football at the age of 17 and has been tipped for great things further down the line.
But last season was a steep learning curve for the youngster who found the Premier League a real challenge.
“I want to do better this season than I did the last,” he said. “I had injuries, a lot of settling in and adjusting to do but I really want to hit the ground running this season.
“I thought I had scored against Seongnam before the shot was tipped on to the post and it would have been nice for the team to have got the rewards for coming back into the game.
“We want to get that winning feeling as soon as possible but we have another chance in Sunday’s game and I know the lads will be really keen to do well.
“We have some good players here and we’re better than we showed against Seongnam.
“Hopefully it will be a much better display on Sunday.”