Sunderland’s Connor Wickham on how Dick Advocaat has changed his game

Connor Wickham may not be scoring goals, but that is because Adovcaat has improved his game elsewhere.

Signed as a striker and impressing in front of goal at the end of last season, Wickham has told the Chronicle that Advocaat’s main usage of him has been as a number 10.

“The manager asked me on the first day he came in whether I could play in that role,” the 22-year-old said. “It is something if I am going to say yes to I have to be able to do it!

“That is part of the job. As a forward, you should be able to play in any attacking role.”

Despite scoring five goals in three games at the tail-end of last season to keep the Black Cats in the Premier League, Wickham started the campaign as a left winger in Gus Poyet’s system.

He was forced to patrol the left flank as more of a defensive winger than attacking outlet, as Poyet preferred a flat 4-5-1 to 4-3-3, and it is no surprise that this season he has netted just three goals in 29 league games.

Since Dick Advocaat’s appointment, the former England youth international has enjoyed something of a rejuvenation, although the Dutch boss has still not let him lead the line.

Favouring a more attacking system, Wickham has been moved to a central number 10 role, with Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher up front, and the youngster has been impressive. He has proven a handful for opposition defences against both West Ham and Newcastle, and his physical workmanlike attitude means he can still provide the defensive effort he added on the left.

He may still be misfiring and needing to add goals to his game, but right now Advocaat has turned Wickham into a much more all-rounded player - and that can only be a good thing for Sunderland.

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