Sunderland boss: Wickham has changed in ‘two or three’ areas

Gus Poyet has praised Connor Wickham’s improvement in the last few weeks.

Wickham had struggled to have an impact this term, failing to build on the incredible run of form he enjoyed in the last few months of last season.

Scoring five goals in three games - including strikes against Manchester City and Chelsea - the 21-year-old forward played a vital role in the Black Cats surviving in the Premier League. He was set to continue as Poyet’s chosen starting striker for the current campaign, but the youngster was moved out onto the left-flank for a number of games - and has scored just two goals.

His early season form came under much criticism, and the ongoing contract saga surrounding him was said to be playing upon his mindset. With no new deal agreed at the Stadium of Light, the youngster is reportedly a transfer target for a number of clubs - both in England and abroad - but Poyet wants to see his future tied to Wearside.

However, the former Ipswich forward has improved in the last few weeks, and his performance in the 0-0 draw with Chelsea was arguably his best showing of the season. Once again featuring on the left, Wickham was utilised to prevent Branislav Ivanovic from overlapping on the right flank, and his energetic defensive performance was vital in the Black Cats becoming the only team to prevent the Blues from finding the back of the net this campaign.

Poyet was delighted to see his prospect enjoying a good run once again, and he told the Sunderland Echo that he had spoken to Wickham to outline the areas that the youngster needed to improve.

“I think there’s been two or three things that he’s really changed,” the Uruguayan coach revealed.

“There was one of the games when he was very static. We talked to him because we don’t want him to play wide and just stay there.

“There was another situation where we reminded him of his link-up with Fletch [Steven Fletcher] during the summer.”

Whilst Poyet is claiming that it was his talk that outlined the needed improvements, he offers praise to Wickham for putting in the effort to change his game to become an all-round better player.

He added: “And then it’s been down to himself.”

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