CONNOR Wickham has shrugged off all the hype surrounding his move to Sunderland and says he is already looking forward to the challenge ahead in the 2011/12 campaign.
The 18-year-old striker, rated the hottest property outside the Premier League, has been the subject of intense speculation in recent days.
Once it became clear he would be leaving Ipswich Town this summer, there was huge interest in which Premier League club he would be joining with Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal all linked with interests in the precocious England Under-21 man.
In the end, Sunderland beat everyone to the punch and succeeded in securing the teenager’s signature on a four-year deal for an £8.1million fee.
And the player himself is glad to be free of the media storm and able to concentrate on his football again.
“It’s a relief to get it finished,” he said.
“A weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can get on with playing football.
“I know where I’m going next season and I’m looking forward to getting back to training and meeting the boys.
“I know Jack Colback from Ipswich, Billy Knott from England games and Louis Laing and a couple of the younger boys as well.
“I’m sure I’ll get to know the rest of the boys pretty quickly.
“The quicker I get to know the boys and the quicker the bond builds up, then everything will run smoothly.”
Read more about Connor Wickham’s hopes for Sunderland in today’s Echo.