CONNOR Wickham believes his loan switch to Sheffield Wednesday could prove to be a “big step” in his bid to become a Sunderland regular.
Wickham made his Owls debut in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Derby County, just 24 hours after agreeing to a month-long stay with the Championship outfit.
The 19-year-old has started just one Premier League game for Sunderland this season despite showing clear signs of improvement, with his chances of first-team action further reduced by the capture of fellow striker Danny Graham.
Wickham, who was also a target for Hull and Huddersfield, realises he needs to play competitive football to maintain his progress and hopes he can prove a hit at Hillsborough.
“I’ve settled right in. I think it will be a big step in my career and something I can learn from,” said the £8million frontman.
“The manager at Sunderland (Martin O’Neill) was happy for me to come and get games and experience. Not getting enough game time there was a big part in me coming here.
“I spoke to the manager (Wednesday boss Dave Jones). He told me everything I needed to hear. That was basically it. My mind was made up. I wanted to come.
“It’s a massive club, there’s a good manager, a good team ethic and they’re going forward, so hopefully I can be part of the team going forward.
“I just want games and to gain experience from being here. A few goals would help to get the team up the table.
“Maybe there are a lot of expectations, which hopefully I’ll live up to. I’m confident I can do that.”
Wickham only met his team-mates for the first time on Saturday morning, but was pitched into the clash against Derby from the bench after just 33 minutes.
The England Under-21 international helped Wednesday secure a point after recovering from a two-goal deficit and went close to getting on the scoresheet himself.
“I was eager to get playing,” added the former Ipswich Town man.
“To come in and go on after half an hour, I was a bit surprised.
“But the manager gave me the nod, Whenever he does that, I’m ready. I was warm and excited to get going.
“I think I did well. Going 2-0 down is not ideal but the boys showed a lot of character and determination to get back in the game, and we did it very well.
“The manager just said ‘go on and show what you can do, don’t feel any pressure’ which I didn’t. I went on with no fear.”