FORMER Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy is keen to take £8m striker Connor Wickham back to Ipswich Town.
Wickham has been told by Black Cats manager Martin O’Neill that he will consider allowing him to leave on loan after failing to make an impact on Premier League.
Blackburn Rovers and Wolves are among the clubs thought to be interested in giving the 21-year-old a chance to shine but now Mc- Carthy has entered the fray.
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McCarthy, who had shown an interest during his time in charge at Wolves, took over the Tractor Boys last week and has immediately turned his attention towards luring the England Under-21s international back to East Anglia.
Wickham has only made half a dozen Premier League appearances since leaving Ipswich in the summer of last year and is likely to be interested in returning nearer to his Colchester roots.
Ipswich are unlikely to be in a position to match the wages he will be earning, but hope O’Neill will view the move as a chance for the player to continue his development.
But the Sunderland manager must consider the likelihood of having to turn to him as his team’s scoring problems deepen ahead of this Saturday’s trip to Everton.
Steven Fletcher remains the only Sunderland player to have scored a goal this season and he has not scored since hitting the winner against Wigan on September 29.
That is more than eight hours of football and O’Neill, linked with a January move for Vitoria Setubal’s attacking midfielder Paulo Tavares yesterday, is intent on working on a solution on the training ground this week.
For all Wickham has struggled to make his mark on Wearside he remains one of the few alternatives to Fletcher, Louis Saha and Fraizer Campbell to use in attack along with Ji Dong-Won.
O’Neill’s options have become further reduced with news that short-term signing James McFadden has suffered a hamstring problem.
The Scottish forward had been expected to figure in the Under-21s defeat to Southampton on Monday.
But the injury he picked up in training is being assessed and treated in the hope it will not disrupt his hopes of landing a longer deal.
The 29-year-old is yet to play for Sunderland and is desperate to prove himself before his contract expires in January.