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O’Neill recalls Wickham from Wednesday to provide back-up
MARTIN O’NEILL is in no rush to turn to Connor Wickham to save Sunderland from dropping further down the Premier League table.
Wickham has been prevented from extending his initial one-month loan at Sheffield Wednesday, despite strong efforts from Hillsborough to retain him.
And after much deliberation since last weekend’s appearance against Leicester City, O’Neill has decided to recall him.
The Owls had been hoping to persuade Sunderland to part with the striker again with the option of bringing him back at 24 hours notice.
But O’Neill informed his counterpart at Wednesday, Dave Jones, that he needs him back.
Jones said: “I’ve been really pleased with Connor during his loan, he was a pleasure to work with and a talented player.
I’ve spoken with Martin O’Neill and we really wanted Connor to stay but I fully understand that Sunderland have a striker shortage at the moment.
“If it is something we get a chance to look at again, we would certainly like to have him back.”
O’Neill has been reluctant to use the England Under-21s international this season and has managed just one goal in his nine appearances for the club.
Despite that both Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham will keep him out of the starting line-up when Norwich City travel to Wearside on Sunday, O’Neill wants him as back-up.
Sunderland have been unable to name an extra attacking option on the bench recently after introducing Graham to his starting XI. At QPR last Saturday they had to name five defenders, a goalkeeper and a midfielder as their substitutes.
It is hoped winger James McClean will also be available on Sunday after illness.
Wickham’s future is not in any real doubt given that he still has plenty of time remaining on the contract he signed when he made a move from Ipswich Town in the summer of 2011.
O’Neill insists he is not thinking about the players whose deals are to to expire in the close-season until the end of the campaign.
Titus Bramble and Matt Kilgallon are both expected to leave in the summer. O’Neill said: “Now at this minute, the most important issue is trying to get the points on the board.
I know it’s a cliché but these things (contracts) can wait.”
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