Connor Wickham is delighted to have agreed an extended loan deal to stay with Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday.
The £8.1m signing toiled at Sunderland after joining in 2011 – scoring just once in nine Premier League starts – but has found a new lease of life at Hillsborough.
The 20-year-old impressed last season on loan and jumped at the chance to return to Wednesday earlier this season to carry out “unfinished business”.
Seven goals in just nine games have seen Wickham help fire the Owls out of the Championship relegation zone, his latest strike coming in the 2-0 win over Blackpool on New Year’s Day.
After persuading parent club Sunderland, struggling at the bottom of the Premier League, to extend his loan spell to January 28, Wickham is keen to carry on in what he believes is the “best form of my life”.
Even in his early days at Ipswich Town, the England Under-21 striker only scored 13 goals in 65 league appearances, although half of those were as substitute.
“I was pushing for (the loan) to be extended,” said Wickham, who has 18 months remaining on his Black Cats contract. “I’m enjoying my time here. I want to be playing football and I was aware I was coming to the end of my loan.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing here and the chance came to extend, so I had no hesitation in signing the contract.
“I’ve come to Sheffield Wednesday for a second time. I’ve been here for almost a year now.
“I’m happy, I’m playing football and doing what I’m paid to do, so I’m feeling on top of the world at the moment. Wednesday gave me a chance when no one else did. I could have gone on loan maybe a couple of months before I came here the first time.
“The gaffer, Dave (Jones) and everyone else here showed faith in me and gave me the opportunity to play football.
“Last time, I felt I left too soon. I only scored once. I wanted to come back because I knew the staff, the players. I felt like we had a lot of potential.
“We got out of a battle that season and we’re in a battle now but, thankfully, we’re out of that relegation zone. We just want to keep pushing up that table.”
Because Wickham is only 20, he is signed on a youth loan, meaning he can only sign for 28 days at a time.
Asked what the future holds, he replied: “I just want to play football. That’s all I can do. What happens with contracts or moves, it’s not up to me. I can’t control that.
“It’s all about what happens off the pitch. All I can do is what I’m doing at the moment, playing games and scoring goals. I’m probably in the best form I’ve ever been in.”