Wickham focuses fully on FA Cup progress in busy Sunderland time

Connor Wickham celebrates his goal against Burnley
Connor Wickham celebrates his goal against Burnley
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CONNOR Wickham hopes Sunderland can make light of a hectic period of games by booking their place in the FA Cup fifth round tomorrow night.

Wickham’s fourth goal of the season helped Sunderland to a huge win in the battle for Premier League survival on Saturday after the Black Cats moved four points clear of the relegation zone with a 2-0 victory over fellow strugglers Burnley.

Now, Gus Poyet’s side turn their attentions to tomorrow night’s FA Cup fourth round replay at Fulham, where more than 3,000 travelling fans will hope to see Sunderland secure a trip to League One outfit Bradford City in the last 16 of the competition.

Poyet is likely to make a handful of changes for the trip to Craven Cottage, with the likes of Steven Fletcher and Ricky Alvarez both in contention to start for the second of a potential five games inside a fortnight.

But Wickham, one of those expected to remain in the side, is looking for Sunderland to capitalise on the three points over Burnley with back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

“The games are coming thick and fast,” Wickham told the Echo.

“We’re just ruing that we didn’t seal it in the first game with Fulham, because now it’s an extra game.

“But that’s what we’re paid to do and that’s what we’ve got to adapt to.

“We’ve done it before and hopefully, with the teams that have gone out of the cup, it’s an incentive to push on and hopefully go all the way.”

Wickham was used alongside Defoe in the starting line-up for the first time on Saturday after Poyet reverted to the 4-3-3 system which he had used all season, prior to the previous two games.

But Wickham was given fewer defensive responsibilities than earlier in the campaign, while also encouraged to drift infield alongside Defoe.

That paid dividends with both Defoe and Wickham getting on the scoresheet, in Sunderland’s first Stadium of Light win in the Premier League since October.

“We played well as a team and looked comfortable,” added Wickham.

“I’ve not had much of a chance to play with Jermain in a game situation, so the opportunity came on Saturday and I managed to take it.

“It was a good day for me personally, the team, and the fans.

“The manager said to me on Friday to get forward and play as close to Jermain as possible.

“When I went forward, I could let the midfield take control of defending.

“That suited me, as I could use more energy going forward.

“I think in the first half, we pressed really well and pushed on which was good because me and Jermain didn’t have to drop deep as much.

“The second half we had to adapt, but I still think we were comfortable.

“It’s a massive win. We saw the results and they all went our way so it’s something we can use to our advantage and push on with.”