Connor Wickham: In-form Sunderland striker could gatecrash England's World Cup squad
Black Cats on verge of safety after crucial win over Cardiff
By Lee Hendrie
Last Updated: 29/04/14 8:55am
Ex-Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie thinks that might be the case after watching the frontman score two headers in the Black Cats' crucial 4-0 victory over relegation rivals Cardiff.
Wickham also netted twice in the recent 2-2 draw with Manchester City and once in last week's shock victory over Chelsea.
And Hendrie thinks that after having such a positive impact on the Sunderland side since his return from a loan spell at Leeds, Wickham has a sniff of playing for the Three Lions this summer.
"If you look at how he has played, his goals and the way he has contributed to Sunderland, why not?" Hendrie said of Wickham - who has yet to play for the full England side but has collected 17 Under-21 caps - on Sky Sports News.
"He was fantastic in this game [with Cardiff] and one of the key men for Sunderland by putting himself about and holding the ball up well."
Sunderland's triumph over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side lifted them into 17th place and out of the bottom three for the first time since February 10, and the Black Cats have a game in hand and a better goal difference than the sides below them.
Hendrie thinks Gus Poyet's charges should now secure their Premier League status, with a trip to Manchester United and home clashes against West Brom and Swansea still to come.
"Hats off to Sunderland against Cardiff as they kept going - it could have been five or six in the end - and I think they can push to safety now," he added, after the Mackems leapfrogged Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich in the table.
"Man United away will be tough but the two home games gives them a chance of getting out if it and I think it will be hard now for Cardiff, Norwich and Fulham."
Cardiff's hopes of getting anything from their visit to the Stadium of Light were perhaps extinguished by the red card given to defender Cala, which led to Sunderland's second goal.
The Spaniard tugged back Wickham outside the penalty area but continued to pull him inside the 18-yard box, and after initially playing the advantage, referee Phil Dowd eventually awarded the spot kick when the Sunderland man could not capitalise.
Dowd also brandished a red card to onetime Sevilla star Cala, and while Cardiff were incensed by the call, Sky Sports pundit Niall Quinn felt the official was spot on with the both the penalty and the sending off.
"I thought Wickham was fouled, but then I thought the opportunity had passed when he stayed on his feet," said Quinn, who played for, managed, and served as chairman for Sunderland.
"So it was to my surprise that Dowd, as he has done this season, took his time, waited to see if there was an advantage [and then gave a penalty] - but it was a brave and correct decision.
"Cala tried to pull Wickham down outside the box but he was still at him in the box and if he hadn't pulled him, Wickham would have got there sooner and possibly scored [so it was the right call]."