Lee Johnson reacts to Charlie Wyke's superb hat-trick and has this message for the Sunderland striker

Lee Johnson says building Charlie Wyke's confidence is going to be key for Sunderland after the striker scored a superb hat-trick at Plough Lane.

Saturday, 16th January 2021, 3:56 pm

Three excellent finishes from the 28-year-old secured the points for a Black Cats side who were tested sternly by a resilient AFC Wimbledon side.

Wyke's front-post finshing was a key part of the win, and offered encouraging signs after his role in the 4-0 win at Lincoln City last month.

Sunderland's head coach says he will keep demanding the best from his centre-forward.

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Charlie Wyke scores his second goal at Plough Lane

"I’m delighted for him," Johnson said.

"For any striker, a hat-trick will give them confidence.

"He had to work his socks off today, he was battered from pillar to post by the two centre-halves but he has dealt it and he earned his opportunities.

"He could have scored about five today.

"When he gets across the near post, he bangs in goals – you saw that against Lincoln, and then again here.

"He’ll be delighted and we are delighted for him, however it is what we expect.

"He’s a striker and when we feed him, we expect him to take his chances."

Wyke's hat-trick took his tally for the campaign to thirteen from 24 appearances across all competitions, and has cemented his place as the first-choice forward at present.

Johnson says self-belief is going to be crucial for the striker.

"I think Charlie has to believe in himself," Johnson said.

"A lot of the problem at a club like this is external influences that penetrates the mind.

"We have to internalise his confidence levels and make sure that football doesn’t define him as a human.

"Sometimes the pressure of being at a big club like this can get to people.

"With everything we are working on, today’s game will be fantastic for him.

"He believes in himself, but I believe he is probably better than he believes at the moment."

Wyke started up front alongside Aiden O'Brien after Lynden Gooch tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

All other individuals at the club tested negative, with the club hopeful that their significantly enhanced protocols have worked.