The Black Cats manager backs his striker to force his way into Roy Hodgson’s international plans after seeing his Premier League form earn a new contract at the Stadium of Light
Gus Poyet has lavished praise on Connor Wickham and backed him to earn further international recognition with England after committing to fresh terms at Sunderland.
- lavish – bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon.
- bestow – melimpahkan, memberikan
Wickham, who signed a new four-and-a-half-year contract on Tuesday, is yet to make his senior international debut but has represented his country at four different under-age levels.
Poyet believes that the former Ipswich Town forward, who has scored twice in 14 Premier League appearances this season, continues to display maturity beyond his years and should be setting his sights higher than the Under-21s setup after proving himself among the top flight elite.
“He wants to play in the middle and he will sooner or later, because he’s a No.9,” Poyet told the press. “Then we tried him on the left this season, I liked what I saw and he’s got better there.
“I forget sometimes he’s 21. You think he’s 24. He’s more mature, he knows his game better and what he can do for us. He keeps improving and there’s more to come, I’m sure there’s more. If he’s in the middle, it’s easier for him.
“There are not too many young English players with that power. People who worked with him at England Under-21s, they’d be surprised if they got the chance to see him again now. They’d be surprised at how much he’s improved and how mature he is. Now it depends on us making him better and him scoring goals.”
Poyet, who put pressure on Wickham to commit his future to Sunderland over the summer, is delighted to have seen an extended stay on Wearside agreed by all parties and backs his front man to go from strength to strength and fully justify an £8 million price tag.
“I’m not going to blame anyone but sometimes, when you pay a lot of money for a player, we all think that player’s ready, it doesn’t matter if he’s 18 or 28,” the Uruguayan remarked.
“There’s always room for improvement so maybe he didn’t finish his football education in that natural way.
“When you saw him at Ipswich at that age and you sign him for that money, naturally everyone thinks he has to play immediately but he found himself in and out and coming back to the club with different managers and never in a position to play.
“To improve, you need to play against the biggest and the best. It’s important for me that Connor’s signed his contract.”