Sheffield Wednesday loan striker Connor Wickham hopes to return to Hillsborough as a Premier League player next season.
Whether that is with the Owls or parent club Crystal Palace remains to be seen, but Wickham is relishing the challenge of helping Wednesday gain promotion.
I think the ambition of the club, the way the chairman and the manager want us to go is clear to everyone.Connor Wickham
Ever since he enjoyed two loan spells as a teenager at Hillsborough, Wickham has had a soft spot for the Owls, and was at Wembley as a fan in 2016 for the play-off final defeat to Hull City.
If Wickham gets his way, he will be back at Wembley in May as a player. The 26-year-old’s arrival should certainly improve Wednesday’s goal threat, which has dwindled with top-scorer Steven Fletcher out injured.
The Owls head to Barnsley hoping to claw back a seven-point deficit to the top six.
“We’re all aware of the situation,” said Wickham, who hopes to make his debut alongside fellow new recruit Josh Windass.
“We have 16 games left and we’re seven points off the top six at the moment. It’s three wins, we know we’re more than capable of that. The mood in the dressing room is good and relaxed.”
In 2013-2014, Wickham – his Palace contract expires in 2021 – netted eight goals in 11 games for Stuart Gray’s team, as the Owls finished 16th.
Since the arrival of new owner Dejphon Chansiri, Wednesday’s ambitions are aimed towards the Premier League and Wickham has noticed the changes.
“The changing room and training facilities have totally changed since I was here,” he said.
“I think the ambition of the club, the way the chairman and the manager want us to go is clear to everyone.
“I’ve not been back in five or six years and everything’s changed. We want to be a Premier League club and that’s what we’re all here to achieve.
“If you had gone on a tour six years ago and come back today you would see it’s totally different.
“The stadium as well – Hillsborough is a great stadium and the fans are incredible.
“I think they’ve built it in a way to shape up to be a Premier League club.
“If that day comes this season, then maybe I’ll be back next year.”