Di Canio: Wickham needs a wake-up call
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio says striker Connor Wickham needs a "slap in the face" to motivate him.
Di Canio's unique style of management has endeared him to the Sunderland faithful already, and after the club's safety was confirmed after Wigan lost 4-1 to Arsenal on Tuesday, the Italian can begin preparing for next season.
Sunderland – who sit 17th in the Premier League table – will be expected to improve considerably in the 2013-14 campaign and if they are to do that, the form of Wickham may be crucial.
The 20-year-old was signed from Ipswich Town for an initial fee of eight million pounds in 2011 but he has failed to repay the faith shown in him, scoring just twice in 32 appearances in all competitions.
Wickham will represent England at the Under-21 European Championship in the off-season and Di Canio says he needs a wake-up call if he wants to be at his best.
"Maybe, with this guy, I have to slap his face a little bit," Di Canio said of Wickham.
"I'm talking about motivating him in a genuine way because he has so much potential.
"But sometimes he comes in and he seems to be looking around saying, 'Where am I?'. I want to say, 'You are on the football pitch, with the grass'.
"He is an intelligent guy, but once he seemed to be complaining because it was wet. I told him that it is typical for this area.
"Maybe if he doesn't go out in a small T-shirt when it is wet and cold, he won't be complaining."
Wickham is one of three forwards picked in England's squad, with Wilfried Zaha – who will officially join Manchester United in the off-season – and Bolton's Marvin Sordell the other options available to England manager Stuart Pearce.