Wickham back, but Owls eye future deal

Connor Wickham.
Connor Wickham.
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SHEFFIELD Wednesday will continue to track Connor Wickham, in the hope that the Sunderland striker will be allowed to return to Hillsborough on loan next season, writes CHRIS YOUNG.

But Wickham’s immediate task is to boost Sunderland’s attacking options, with the 19-year-old expected to be included on the bench for Sunday’s crunch Stadium of Light encounter against Norwich City.

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill eventually opted against allowing Wickham to remain with the Owls yesterday after almost a week pondering the Championship outfit’s proposal to extend the £8million man’s loan deal.

Despite O’Neill’s desire to let Wickham play regular first-team football, Sunderland’s need was greater, with five defenders included on the Black Cats’ bench for last weekend’s defeat at QPR.

And with Sunderland requiring every possible option available with their Premier League status far from assured, Wickham will be involved against the Canaries, as the hosts look to end a six-game winless run.

But while Wednesday have turned their eye to other potential loan targets, as they fight a relegation battle of their own, boss Dave Jones has admitted he would be keen to re-sign Wickham in the future.

That is unlikely to be this season, with this weekend’s games in the Championship the last before the Football League loan deadline.

Jones said: “If it is something we get a chance to look at again, we would certainly like to have him back.

“I’ve been really pleased with Connor during his loan, he was a pleasure to work with and a talented player.

“I spoke with Martin O’Neill and we really wanted Connor to stay but I fully understand that Sunderland have a striker shortage at the moment.”

Wickham made six appearances – four of them starts - during his month-long stint with the Owls, netting his only goal for the club in last weekend’s victory at Leicester City.

Meanwhile, Wickham and Sunderland team-mate Danny Rose have been included in the England Under-21 squad for two warm-up games for the summer’s European Championships. The Three Lions host Romania at Wycombe, on Thursday before facing Austria at Brighton’s Amex Stadium on Monday, March 25.