Confident Connor Wickham sets sights on England Euro glory
CONNOR Wickham has set his sights on giving Ipswich Town fans something to cheer at the end of the season – by playing in his second European Championships in consecutive years.
The Ipswich Town forward had a starring role in England’s victorious Under-17s tournament last summer culminating in scoring the winner in the final against Spain.
Now the confident teenager wants to gatecrash Stuart Pearce’s Under-21s squad despite having played just twice at the age level and with young stars from the Premiership in his way.
Wickham, who turns 18 on Thursday, should get a golden chance to impress Pearce during tonight’s friendly with Iceland at Preston’s Deepdale Stadium.
With strike duo Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge allowed to withdraw from the squad, Wickham could actually be in line for his first Under-21s start. Then next stop, the European Championships in Denmark in June for the ambitious starlet.
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Wickham said: “I just want to keep playing football, and I want to play football at the highest level. I’m with England now and I want to show the gaffer and everyone else what I’m capable of to be in the mindset for the summer and for future England games.
“It’d be another summer tournament and I’d want to win another summer tournament. It would be difficult but if we play to the potential that’s in our team then we can beat anyone on the day.”
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Wickham, who won his second Under-21s cap as a late substitute in last week’s 4-0 win over Denmark, paid tribute to the faith shown in him by Town boss Paul Jewell who has started the youngster in every one of his 15 league and cup games in charge.
The double winner at last week’s Football League awards said: “This season I’ve got the football I’ve wanted to play and that I’ve needed to play and I’ve got the goals that I’ve needed to boost my confidence. Any football is going to help any footballer and I just want to keep playing as much football as I can.”
After such a comfortable win a few days previous, Pearce has allowed some of the side that started the Denmark match to return to their clubs having already promised to make changes for tonight’s 7.45pm kick off, shown live on ESPN.
In addition to Welbeck and Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Chris Smalling and Fabrice Muamba have all left the squad while skipper Micah Richards, Kieran Gibbs and keeper Frankie Fielding have returned to their clubs after sustaining injuries.
In their place, Pearce has handed maiden call-ups to Manchester United keeper Ben Amos and midfielders Adam Hammill (Wolves) and Jordan Mutch (Birmingham). Nathan Baker (Aston Villa) and Jordan Spence (West Ham) could also make their Under-21 debuts tonight after being added to the squad.