Poyet hails Wickham improvement

first_img The Uruguayan said: “I actually think he is playing better than he did last year, but he is scoring fewer goals. “It’s about finding a balance. We don’t want him to be the best player on the pitch every week without scoring, but nor do we want him to be awful and scoring a goal every now and then. “He needs to find the balance between playing well and scoring – and he will get there. “We need to keep on creating chances for him and it is only when we stop creating chances that he will have a problem. “There’s a big difference between a striker who doesn’t score because his team is not creating chances, and one who has chances but is missing them.” Wickham is not alone in enduring a barren spell in front of goal with none of Poyet’s three main frontmen – Scotland international Steven Fletcher and United States counterpart Jozy Altidore are the others – having yet registered this season. But as he heads into Saturday’s home clash with Stoke, which will provide Sunderland with their latest attempt to secure a first Premier League win of the season, Poyet is happy that the youngster has improved significantly as a player during their time together. The 46-year-old said: “He is holding the ball the ball up better now, and I think that’s due to the way we train and the fact that he knows just what we want him to do. The 21-year-old striker scored five times in three Barclays Premier League appearances at the end of the last campaign to help drag the Black Cats back from the brink of relegation. Poyet, who recalled the former Ipswich frontman from a loan spell at Leeds to hand him his big chance, has installed Wickham as his first-choice lone striker this time around and although he is yet to open his account, the manager is convinced he is offering even more to the team. Gus Poyet is confident Connor Wickham is playing better now than when his goals helped spark Sunderland’s remarkable recovery last season. “It’s not just about doing it in games, it’s also about taking care of the ball every day in training, and he does that. “He has been impressive and he has been a massive player for us. I enjoy watching him and I just want to start seeing him put the ball in the net.” Poyet will welcome defender Wes Brown (calf) back to the squad. However, loan signing Sebastian Coates is out with a thigh injury, while midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini remains a doubt with an ankle problem. Mark Hughes is hoping to take full advantage of Sunderland’s struggles in front of goal as he prepares to take his Stoke side back to Wearside for the second time in under two weeks. Hughes believes his side’s counter-attacking style of play is perfectly suited to capitalising on any frustrations felt by the Black Cats as they push for points at the Stadium of Light. Hughes, who led his side to a 2-1 win over the same opponents in last month’s Capital One Cup clash, told his club’s official website: “They seem to be struggling at the moment and drawing a lot of games. If they are a bit blunt up front hopefully we can capitalise on that. “We’re very much in a positive frame of mind after Monday and we’re going into a game against opponents we have played quite recently and overcome. “It’s different in the Premier League – they will make changes and we probably will as well – and they will want to make amends but that may help us to a certain extent because we will always be a threat on the break.” Potters full-back Phil Bardsley spent six years at Sunderland before leaving for the Britannia Stadium this summer and has already tasted victory against his former club having played a full part in the cup success. And the Scotland international wants more of the same this time. “We have already been up there once this season and managed to win the game, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage in this game too,” he told Stoke City Player. “It was a little bit strange when we went up there last week for the cup game because I spent so long up there, and still have a lot of people I am close to at the club. “I’m a professional footballer though and I am a Stoke City player now. My only priority is doing everything I possibly can to help us record the three points from the game.” Monday’s 1-0 win over Sunderland’s north-east neighbours Newcastle came at a price with Mame Biram Diouf limping off with an injury which will keep him out of Saturday’s clash. Press Associationlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *