Wickham eyes regular place at Sunderland

The 21-year-old striker scored five crucial goals in April to lift the Black Cats towards top-flight survival after successful loan spells with Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday
Sunderland striker Connor Wickham is eager to carry his fine late-season form into the next Premier League campaign under manager Gus Poyet.

The former Ipswich man scored five goals in a run of three games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Cardiff in April to help Sunderland maintain their top-flight status.

Having previously failed to establish himself under Martin O'Neill and Paolo Di Canio, Wickham built on successful loan spells with Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday to make his mark with the Black Cats.

"It was a personal choice [to go on loan], I asked [Poyet] go to out," he told The Independent.

"I kept pestering and pestering him and asking, 'if I'm not playing, can I go?' Thankfully, in the end, he did let me. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to go forwards.

"It stood me in good stead and propelled me towards the first team at Sunderland.

"I need to make sure that I'm in the team every single week next season and prove to people that I am no flash in the pan. Ever since my debut I have wanted first-team football.

"It's like a bug, you can never beat the feeling of walking out in front of 50,000 people and scoring. It is something you get addicted to."

Having kept Sunderland up and guided them to the League Cup final, Wickham is keen to see Poyet commit his future to the Stadium of Light amid rumoured interest from elsewhere.

"Of course, we all want him to stay," he said. "Training is good, he is very down to earth, you can always talk to him. He is open to suggestions from players.

"He knows exactly what he wants and is very organised, it took us until the last five games of the season to show it."