Wickham hopes to hit ground running for Wednesday

Connor Wickham hopes he can take his international form into his loan spell at Hillsborough after joining Sheffield Wednesday last night.

While Sunderland’s £8.1m striker has found first-team opportunities limited at the Stadium of Light – scoring just once in nine appearances this season – the 19-year-old has netted four goals for England Under-21s.

His latest came in the 4-0 midweek win over Sweden, with other goals coming against Northern Ireland, Serbia and Norway.

Now the former Ipswich Town forward hopes to grab his Owls chance with both hands after swapping the Premier League for the Championship.

The teenager said: “As a striker you want to score in every game. I want to come here and show everyone what I’m capable of.

“My confidence is high and hopefully I’ll add another dimension to the team.

“Obviously the team is in good form so I will have to earn my place, but, like I have said, I am eager to do well here and show everyone what I can do.

“It was good for me to play 45 minutes for England Under-21s and to score a goal boosts your confidence, and hopefully I can take that into my time here and hit the ground running.”

Wickham’s arrival on a month’s youth loan ends manager Dave Jones’s pursuit of a player he has long admired, and along with fellow loan arrival Leroy Lita – who has scored two goals in as many games since arriving from Swansea – gives Wednesday the firepower to pull themselves clear of the Championship drop zone.

Wickham – who will stay at Hillsborough until March 9, which covers six Championship games – was being chased by several clubs, but the striker admitted he was impressed by Jones and Wednesday’s stature.

He said: “I need to play games and after speaking to the manager, and with the size of the club, I jumped at the chance to come here.

“It’s always important to have the manager’s backing and hopefully I can come here and make an impact.”

Wickham, who cost the Black Cats £8.1m when he joined them from Ipswich during the summer of 2011, is yet to establish himself in the first team at the Stadium of Light, but has shown signs that he is getting to grips with the Premier League in recent months.

Manager Martin O’Neill, who completed a £5m swoop for Swansea’s Danny Graham on transfer deadline day, has allowed Wickham to go out on loan because the club has only three games between now and his scheduled return date.

O’Neill said: “Now that he has good confidence, maybe getting four or five matches in that month period in the Championship would be good news all round if he stayed clear of injury.

“My slight concern is that something happens to us – but it is three games as opposed to a host of matches in the 28-day period.”

The games Wickham will be eligible to play include Hillsborough games against Derby County, Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest, while there are away trips to Birmingham City, Watford and Leicester City.

Wednesday host the Rams today looking to extend their recent good run which has seen them win six, draw two and lose just once in their last nine Championship matches. The visitors have sold 3,000 tickets for the game.

Coke’s second chance: Page 2.