Connor Wickham has been forced to bide his time as he looks to stake his claim for a place in the Sunderland side, and admitted he has faced difficulties in breaking into the first-team - such is the quality of Steve Bruce's striking options.
The 18-year-old forward who arrived at the Stadium of Light from Ipswich in the summer, was finally handed a starting spot in the Black Cats' 2-0 Barclays Premier League victory over Bolton at the weekend, and after impressing in the match, the youngster has revealed his determination to maintain his place.
"Of course it's been difficult," Wickham told the club's official website. "I want to play but there's lots of competition and that's good for me.
"Nick [Bendtner], Sess [Stephane Sessegnon] and Ji [Dong-won] are all doing well so I will have to keep pushing myself.
"But I've got my first start now and hopefully I've done enough to show the manager what I can do. He asked me to go out and work my socks off and I tried to do that."
Wickham is now hoping his performance at the Reebok Stadium will be enough to claim a spot this Saturday when the Black Cats return to Wearside to face Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League.
"I was happy with my own contribution but I can't say that just myself in particular played well," he added.
"All the boys were excellent and that showed on the pitch."
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