Wickham eager to make his mark

The 18-year-old joined the Black Cats from Ipswich during the

summer for an initial £8.1million which could eventually rise

to £12million as manager Steve Bruce invested in his rich

potential. Wickham’s blossoming talent had prompted a series of top

flight clubs to sit up and take notice after he burst into the

Ipswich first-team at the age of just 16 years and 11 days, and

Sunderland had to fight off serious competition to land him.

However, he has had to remain patient on Wearside with Bruce

refusing to pitch him into the intensity of Premier League football

too soon, and he so far has five appearances as a substitute to his

name. Wickham said: “Obviously, it’s been quite frustrating. I just

want to play football and when we are not doing so well, I feel and

want to go on and show everyone what I can do and what I am capable

of doing. “But I have just got to do the best I can every time I

get on to the pitch. I have got to do enough in those 15, 20, 35

minutes that I am capable of doing what I have done before. “Every

day and in every game, you need to do your best and when you do

your best, it builds your confidence. “Confidence is key to any

footballer and I have got confidence at the moment, so I just want

to be playing football.” Wickham will hope for another chance on

familiar territory on Monday night when the Black Cats travel to

promoted Norwich. The Canaries, of course, are Ipswich’s fierce

local rivals and the England Under-21s striker’s last meeting with

them in April ended in a humiliating 5-1 npower Championship defeat

at Portman Road. However, while the Colchester-born frontman

retains a great fondness for the Suffolk club, revenge will not be

the only thing on his mind at Carrow Road. He said: “Ipswich was a

great club and they taught me everything I know – I had been there

since I was 11 years old. “What they did for me was brilliant, all

the coaches and all the boys, and I still speak to some of the boys

now. “But I have moved on, I am at Sunderland, I am in the Premier

League and I have just got to show what I can do in the Premier

League now.” Wickham was one of three strikers to arrive at the

Stadium of Light during the summer transfer window, and Asamoah

Gyan’s shock departure for United Arab Emirates club Al-Ain on loan

means that he, South Korea international Ji Dong-won and loanee

Nicklas Bendtner are the only fit specialists currently in the

squad. Ji opened his goal account in the 2-1 home defeat by Chelsea

on September 10, and midfielder Craig Gardner followed suit on

Sunday as Sunderland claimed their opening victory of the campaign

at the sixth attempt with a 4-0 demolition of Stoke. Now Wickham is

hoping a chance will come his way so he too can get off the mark.

He said: “I hope so, I hope that’s how it goes. “I have just got to

be in the right place at the right time and keep working hard in

training, and hopefully I will get my time on the pitch and the

goals will start coming soon.”