Sunderland striker Connor Wickham has spoke of his desire to establish himself as a first-team regular ahead of the upcoming Premier League campaign.
Wickham arrived at the Stadium of Light in 2011 after an £8 million switch from Ipswich Town when he was just 18, but has failed to make a real impact after limited opportunities.
Approaching his third season with the Black Cats, the 20-year-old is hoping he can add to his eight league starts and become a regular part of Paolo Di Canio's plans.
Obviously the main aim for the season is to try to establish myself in the first-team this year," Wickham told the Sunderland Echo.
“There’s good competition up front because we’ve got a number of good strikers at the club now.
“But hopefully I can just get my head down, work as hard as I can and make sure I do everything right personally. Hopefully then, the manager will recognise it," he added.
Wickham faces some stiff competition for that place with a number of striking options at Di Canio's disposal.
New signing Jozy Altidore joins the likes of Steven Fletcher, Stephane Sessegnon and Ji Dong-won all trying to impress the manager.
But despite much interest from Championship clubs hoping to strike a loan deal with the youngster, Wickham is ready to fight for his place after a busy summer with the England U21's.
Following a disappointing European Championships, Wickham had just a fortnight to recover before he was back in training, however this doesn't worry the striker.
“I didn’t have much of a summer break. But I just want to play football," he said.
“You do get bored when you’re away for too long, so it was just down to me to come back fit and I was.
“Hopefully, I’ll start becoming fitter and stronger, and I can start getting more minutes with the manager starting to use me.”
Sunderland kick-off their season with a home game against Fulham on August 17.
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