Gus Poyet has hailed Connor Wickham's recent form and challenged the youngster to keep scoring the goals that would earn the club Premier League survival as well as personal accolades.
Wickham has scored three goals in his last two games as the Black Cats took an unlikely haul of four points from trips to Manchester City and Chelsea, and Poyet knows that's the kind of scoring streak that can make a massive difference in the remainder of the season. He told reporters:
I don't think anyone in this club is going to come and see me and ask why Connor is playing instead of them. He has made a difference and we want him to be Player of the Month.
We all remember Adam Johnson's similar streak around the turn of the year and without it Sunderland would likely already be long gone from the survival scrap. Another run, whether it came from Wickham or anyone else for that matter, would be huge right now.
As for the player himself, he believes he is firmly back on the right path following a tough three years after his big-money move from Ipswich.
I understand football more than I did when I arrived three years ago. It’s been tough at times, but I don’t think I’m behind schedule.
Maybe I’ve become a bit cleverer. I’ve certainly adapted more, that’s helped my performances, and now I’m back on the track maybe everyone expected me to be on three or four years ago.
I'm almost beyond caring about Wickham's long-term future and contribution at this point. In fact I am beyond caring about anything beyond Sunday really. It's all about the Cardiff game. It's everything for us. Stay up and worry about that kind of thing then!