Pearce backs Wickham
England Under-21s manager Stuart Pearce believes that Sunderland's Connor Wickham can become a quality Premier League striker.
By Simon Porter
Last Updated: 25/11/11 5:12pm
England Under-21s manager Stuart Pearce believes that Sunderland hot striker Connor Wickham can become a quality Premier League striker.
The 18-year-old has not yet found the net for Pearce's youngsters yet but he managed to score his first goal for Sunderland against Aston Villa last month.
The ex-Manchester City boss believes, however, that Wickham is still only young and he still needs time to adapt mentally if he wants to be up there with the best.
"I have no doubts that Connor will develop into a top Premier League striker. But time will tell with that," said Pearce to the Sunderland Echo.
"Sometimes it gets lost on managers, coaches and supporters that lads who are big in stature are older than their years, but they're not. They're still growing up and they've got a young mentality and are still growing into their bodies.
"As I always tell the players, having some form of talent that we all can see and arriving at the end product, which might be a Rooney or a Lampard, is a long journey.
"It involves a lot of commitment and a multitude of things to go in your direction. Connor has got the tools and Steve saw fit to pay a lot of money for a young man with a lot of credentials.
"He's got a European Championship U17 winning medal and there are not a lot of them flying around.
"At international level he's been part of a winning team which is good. But he needs supporting all the way and educating as a footballer."
Wickham sustained knee ligament damage against Manchester United earlier this month and Pearce admits it will be great if Wickham can claim a regular first-team place for Sunderland.
"It was a plus for us for Connor to start a few games," said Pearce. "The more players in our squad who play week-in week-out, the better.
"We have too many who are sat on benches or not even there. When our squad meet up, we always look at how many games they've played and how recently they've played.
"Connor had obviously just broken into the first team at Sunderland which was pleasing for Steve. And it's pleasing for us as well.
"It gives us a better idea of where he is at the moment and how his form is going. All young players need to develop by playing games."