DAVE JONES feels there’s no place like home – or a second home at least – for loan striker Connor Wickham.
The £8.1m Sunderland striker recently joined the Owls on loan until January, following a temporary spell in February and March and marked his second debut with a goal in Wednesday’s much-needed 5-2 success over Reading last weekend.
The 20-year-old has fitted back in seamlessly with his former team-mates and Jones says that sense of familiarity can help Wickham fully express himself amid Championship surroundings where he prospered for Ipswich – and away from the unforgiving Premier League spotlight on Wearside.
On Wickham, whose importance to the Owls could be magnified if injury-hit Hull elect to utilise a 24-hour recall clause and bring back in-form Matty Fryatt, manager Jones said: “Connor had been here before and knew what the place was about.
“He knew me and the coaching staff and most of the players and he enjoyed his time here. Coming back was a lift for him as well. He lifted the dressing room as any new signing would do.
“I would imagine there would have been a lot of (rival) interest in him. I am sure Connor would have said there was.
“But it just gives you a nice feeling as a staff that the boy wanted to come back and it just shows what we do.
“We had another young player here from Everton in Barkley and look how well he is doing. It is nice you (help) do that, but the likes of him and Wickham are good players. Sometimes they just need an injection of confidence or whatever.
“All we can do is give them the stage to go and perform. He (Wickham) has certainly performed as Barks did and there might be one or two others that we get as young players who might do us a turn.”
While the relief was palpable for Wednesdayites after the Owls ended their worst start to a campaign last weekend in a five-star showing, one milestone is awaiting to be chalked off.
Namely a first away win of the campaign after coming tantalisingly close with five 1-1 draws on the road in their past six matches – their last victory on their travels was on April 9.
Despite that statistic, Jones feels Wednesday’s travelling band of supporters – their average away Championship following of 2,055 this term is bettered by Leeds, Leicester and Nottingham Forest – have kept with the side, not been short-changed and have been appreciative of most performances despite no win yet.
Jones said: “It’s nice to get the win at home. That’s where the majority of our fans are.
“The away support that have been following us all season have witnessed some good performances, but, unfortunately, the draws have not been turned into wins.
“Wherever we go, we always have a lot of support and they demand a performance.
“The time we let ourselves down was Birmingham away and there was no reason to do so, but it happens.”