Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has vowed to put an arm round new signing Connor Wickham and use all his leadership qualities to guide the youngster through the next stage of his burgeoning career.
The Black Cats boss accepts he is taking a risk on the England Under 21 forward, but is ready to nurture the player through his opening months and years at the Stadium of Light.
"He's a very special talent. We have to be careful with the lad; he's young and I'm sure he'll serve the club well over the years to come," the former Manchester United defender told the official Sunderland website.
"He's got bags and bags of potential. When you're buying potential, of course there's always a risk. You have to remember he's 18. But I'm convinced he'll be fantastic signing for Sunderland."
Whilst Wickham is one of a host of players to join the Black Cats this summer, a handful are set to go in the other direction and leave Wearside this summer, with Bruce admitting that George McCartney, Nyron Nosworthy and Matt Kilgallon will need to look elsewhere for first team opportunities.
"We have had an enquiry about George. All the players who were out on loan last season – George, Nyron and Matt – need to go out somewhere where they will play games," Bruce continued.
Goalkeeper Craig Gordon has also been acquiring interest, with Arsenal, Celtic, and Manchester City all reportedly on his trail.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon was reluctant to admit too much, but speaking about the Scottish stopper he said: “He's a good keeper but whether we could afford him or not is another thing. He certainly fits the bill for the type of keeper we're looking for."
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