How Sunderland star can use international snub to great effect

Connor Wickham was left out of England’s Under-21 squad, but he should use it to his advantage.

The young Sunderland striker was left out of Gareth Southgate’s squad for the ongoing international break, and he was not even called up as a replacement for the injured trio of Patrick Bamford, Callum Wilson and Saido Berahino.

This snub is in line with the form that Wickham has shown this season, with just three goals and one assist in 28 league appearances. This is a far cry from how important he was at the tail end of last term, when he played a key role in the Black Cats securing their Premier League status.

It is no surprise to see him miss out on the squad for goalscorers in more free scoring form, and Wickham should do all he can to ensure that he utilises the time off to great effect.

With Dick Advocaat’s recent appointment as Sunderland head coach, Wickham has a new boss to impress, and although he played the full 90 minutes in the 1-0 loss to West Ham, there is no guaranteeing that Advocaat will continue to choose him.

However, if Wickham can prove in this fortnight’s worth of training that he is a reliable goalscorer, the Dutch coach will have no choice but the pick the youngster - as goals have been at a premium for Sunderland this season.

Wickham will face competition from Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher, but the 21-year-old has shown himself to be a much harder worker than that pair, and that could pay off in the eyes of Advocaat.

The youngster has a lot of work to do to regain his place in the England youth teams, and the first step should be working hard at Sunderland, so he becomes the first-choice consistent goalscorer that they so desperately need.

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