Connor 'better than young Rooney'

CONNOR Wickham is better than Wayne Rooney at the same age.

CONNOR Wickham is better than Wayne Rooney at the same age.

That is the assertion of Shrewsbury reporters who have seen both in cup action.

Blues stand-in skipper Alex Bruce, who has also seen his fair share of top players in their younger stages, has also tipped Wickham to be a big, big star.

Bruce said: “For a 16-year-old, he's an amazing talent.


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“He's got the world at his feet and he'll be a top, top player one day.

“It's a very exciting prospect both for him and for the the club.

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“For someone of his age to show up so well in a proper first-team match against grown men is a real feather in his cap.”

While Wickham netted two goals in normal time, and a third in the penalty shoot-out, Rooney failed to score in 90 minutes for the Toffeemen, who were beaten 2-1 by the Shrews the FA Cup third round in January 2003.

Former Shrews star Steve Cross, who scored for them in a famous cup win over Ipswich Town in 1982, now works with BBC radio in Shropshire and journalist Stuart Dunn, who covers Shrewsbury Town, were hugely impressed with the 16-year-old.

Dunn said: “We saw Wayne Rooney here when he was a 17-year-old with Everton in a cup match and he never had the influence or made the impression Connor did.

“He took both of his goals superbly and looks a terrific prospect.”

Manager Roy Keane is refusing to get to get carried away and will ease the youngster through carefully to ensure he does not burn out.

Wickham is also staying level headed, showing the same sort of maturity off the pitch as he does on it.

He claimed the match ball at the Prostar Stadium as he celebrated an England Under 17s call up.

Wickham said: "To score our first goal, and then another after the interval in front of our fans against two experienced defenders was great.

"Just being around the hotel all day yesterday gave me a buzz and it is all part of the learning curve.

"I am confident I can handle any pressure that comes my way and will take - as they say - one game at a time.

"Hopefully I have done enough to be in consideration for Saturday's home Championship game against Leicester City."

Town will be without Wickham at the end of August as he has selected for the England Under-17 squad for games against Italy at Burton on August 26, Turkey at Northampton two days later and Portugal at Notts County on August 30.

Wickham already has four Under-17 caps, with Ipswich happy to give permission for him to take his place with the England party.

"I am looking forward to it, with a different style of football. "We have a strong national Under-17 and hopefully we can do the business and I will come back to Ipswich a better player."

- REPORTS that Daryl Murphy has signed by Ipswich Town are being dismissed by both clubs as being way wide of the mark.

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