Paolo Di Canio considers slapping 'playboy' striker

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Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has suggested he may need to seek an alternative method in order to motivate his young striker Connor Wickham. 

Wickham was yesterday named in Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 squad for this summer's European Championships, but has found it hard to force himself into Di Canio's plans.

The former Ipswich striker has made only two appearances for the Black Cats since Di Canio's arrival and the Italian has pondered how to get the best out of his player.

The Northern Echo report Di Canio as saying: "Maybe, with this guy, I have to slap his face a little bit. I'm talking about motivating him in a genuine way because he has so much potential.

"But sometimes he come in (to training) and he seems to be looking around saying, 'Where am I?'. I want to say, 'You are on a football pitch, with the grass'."

Wickham was sent out on loan to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday by Di Canio's predecessor Martin O'Neill, despite the Wearside club struggling for goals all season.

With injury and illness limiting his availability, Di Canio has questioned Wickham's fashion sense, as well as his attitude.

He said: "He in an intelligent guy, but once he seemed to be complaining because it was wet. I told him this 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.

"I have told him, 'no small T-shirts'. I don't want him to be missing a couple of games because he is a Playboy model. We are footballers, that is our job."

Sunderland finish their season with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur, with safety already assured following Wigan Athletic's loss to Arsenal last night (Tuesday).

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Connor Wickham
Premier League

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