Premier League: Sunderland's Connor Wickham hopes his brace heralds a new start
Sunderland forward Connor Wickham says scoring twice against Manchester City on Wednesday night was a huge relief.
Last Updated: 17/04/14 4:19pm
The 21-year-old bagged his first Premier League goals since October 2011 in the 2-2 draw at the Etihad, having been recalled from a loan spell at Leeds.
Wickham joined Sunderland from Ipswich for £8m as a 17-year-old in 2011 and now looks ready to start justifying his expensive price tag.
"It was a massive relief for me to score," he said, "Not just for myself but I think for the team.
"I guess I had a point to prove. I've been sent out on loan a couple of times but that's football.
"I'm just out to do what I do and hopefully I have done myself no harm with this performance.
"It wasn't easy playing in the Premier League at 17 but I've never felt pressured to do what I do.
"I didn't plan to go out on loan, but it happened. I've played a lot of football since going away and that can only help me and benefit me.
"I came to play Premier League football, but I went away, got match-fit, scored a few goals, and I've played against three of the top five since coming back.
"I didn't ask to come back, the manager called me, so, for me, it was a positive and I had something to prove.
"Hopefully, this is the start of something new."
Nasri goal a blow to Sunderland
Sunderland remain bottom of the Premier League, having been denied a stunning victory over title-chasing City by a late Samir Nasri goal.
They are six points from safety but have a game in hand over many of their rivals and Wickham has not given up hope.
"The equaliser was definitely a killer blow but we have five games left, so it's not impossible," he said.
"If we perform on Saturday like we did at City then I don't see why we wouldn't have a chance.
"We performed so well and dug in and, from the moment they scored first, I think we dominated the game.
"Don't get me wrong, they had their patches, but we created more, we defended solidly and, when we went forward, we looked a threat. Thankfully the two goals eventually came and they got a lucky one right at the end."