Wickham staying with Sunderland

Connor Wickham.
Connor Wickham.
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CONNOR Wickham will NOT be joining Swansea City on loan as part of the deal which will bring Danny Graham to Wearside.

Reports yesterday suggested the Sunderland striker could be used as a make-weight in Graham’s imminent move to the Stadium of Light, with Wickham heading to the Welsh club until the end of the season.

But neither Wickham, nor any of other Sunderland’s established first-team players, are likely to depart the Stadium of Light before tonight’s 11pm transfer deadline.

Allowing Wickham to leave for the final three-and-a-half months of the campaign would largely defeat the object of signing Graham after the departures of Fraizer Campbell and Ji Dong-won have left Martin O’Neill with just three established frontmen.

The 19-year-old, who is also interesting new Wolves boss Dean Saunders, has admittedly started just one top-flight game this season, but he has made significant progress over the last few months to the point where he now offers O’Neill a genuine option from the bench.

O’Neill can ill-afford to let any other players go before the summer either.

Although Alfred N’Diaye, Kader Mangane and, if he completes his £5million move, Graham have arrived on Wearside this month, O’Neill’s numerical strength has still been lowered by the departures of Campbell, Ji and Republic of Ireland midfielder David Meyler.

With Lee Cattermole, Danny Rose, Carlos Cuellar and Wes Brown all still sidelined, O’Neill has been left with just 18 remaining first-team players – all of which were included in the matchday squad for Tuesday night’s stalemate with Cardiff City.

The only possible departures today will be youngsters, with cash-strappedSPL outfit Hearts hopeful of beating off competition from the Championship and League One to sign Millfield-born striker Ryan Noble on loan until the end of the season.

Noble would follow 18-year-old Jonny Maddison out of the exit door after the teenage keeper joined League One club Crawley Town on loan until the end of the season earlier this week.

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