Have your say: The great Connor Wickham debate - should he stay or should he go?
CARL MARSTON examines the Wickham debate at both levels, and from different angles....
CONNOR Wickham is rarely out of the headlines, even when he isn’t playing – as in the European U-21 Championships.
The mainstay question of the summer remains – should Ipswich Town cash in on their biggest asset by selling him to one of the Premier League clubs vying for his signature?
CARL MARSTON examines the Wickham debate at both levels, and from different angles
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SHOULD Connor Wickham now be sold, to fund Paul Jewell’s rebuilding job at Portman Road this summer?
A host of Premier League clubs have been tracking Town’s high-profile teenage striker for more than a year, with the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Newcastle joined by recent contenders Sunderland.
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Town boss Jewell revealed only last week that the club had received no formal bids for Wickham, but if one of those interested quintet was to come in with an offer of between �10m and �12million, then a deal could be struck.
The player has always distanced himself from any potential move, insisting he is happy to learn his trade at Portman Road.
That remains the case, especially as he would love to have at least one full season to make a real impact in the Championship.
After a stop-start first half of last season, which was blighted by injuries, a loss of form and long spells on the bench, under previous boss Roy Keane, hit-man Wickham responded with a haul of nine goals during the second half of the campaign, under Jewell.
A full season would surely yield 20 goals or more, especially in harness with Michael Chopra.
EVERY player has a price, in the eyes of a football club, and Wickham is no different.
If a bid comes in, that meets Town’s value, then a deal will be struck.
But the most important fact to remember is that Town DO NOT have to sell. They are not a club in financial disarray. The ball is in their court, and that makes them in a very strong position.
WICKHAM is not a typical starry-eyed teenager.
He is a level-headed 18-year-old, who knows that he is destined for the Premier League, but that he doesn’t have to rush to get there.
He would be quite happy to stay at Portman Road for another season, to hone his talents, having only last season extended the length of his contract on two occasions to the current expiry date of the summer of 2014.
Having said all that, if the club agrees a fee with the Reds, Spurs, the Black Cats, the Gunners or the Magpies, then Wickham will go.
“I think we should try and hold on to him, risk not selling him this summer as he and Chopra may fire us into Prem next year” – Hillibillies
“10 million? Definitely sell him. That’s three very decent Championship players and he is unproven” – Danbotten
“He needs us and we need him for at least another season. Job done” – Ipssimon
“Only if there were two of three great �3m players out there that we could get in with the money. There aren’t.” – CherryHintonBlu
n Comments sent to Carl Marston on www.twitter.com at Carl_Marston
CARL MARSTON’S OPINION
I BELIEVE that Connor Wickham will benefit more from another full season in the Championship with Ipswich, than a year of floating on the periphery of a leading Premier League squad.
His game will improve, his value will increase and so both the player and the club will benefit.
But if someone comes in with a “silly money” offer, then the goalposts will move and Wickham will be off.
A WASTE OF TIME, OR A WORTHWHILE EXPERIENCE?
ENGLAND Under-21s mustered just two points from their three group matches at the European Championships in Denmark, bowing out of the competition on Sunday night following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic.
Wickham sat on the bench in all three matches and, despite England’s struggle for goals and form, was never even given a run-out by head coach Stuart Pearce.
So we will never know whether Wickham could have made a difference.
TOWN can only benefit from Wickham’s recent inclusion in the England Under-21 squad for the European Championships, and the mere fact that he didn’t feature in the disastrous campaign is another plus.
He was deemed good enough to be out there, and can have no blame attached to the squad under-performing.
He doesn’t need to have his profile raised, but any international recognition can only boost his value.
WICKHAM will be disappointed not to have had a look-in, even as a late substitute during one of the three recent games in Denmark.
He will be frustrated, but will have benefited from the experience of rubbing shoulders with players of a similar age (or a year or two older) who have already played in the top flight, especially fellow strikers Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Nathan Delfouneso.
And there will be no danger of burn-out before the new season begins!
“I think it was good. He got the experience of international training sessions and will benefit from taking part in them and watching better strikers” – Jonny “Jonnys” Dixon
“I think for him personally putting on an England shirt and representing his country is a huge honour, plus he’s only 18 remember. Granted he didn’t play, but it will be a good experience for him” – James Deacon
“What was the point of him going out there, just to sit on the bench?” – Tim Omara
“He may realise he would rather be playing football for us, than sitting on a bench week-in, week-out, in the Premiership!” – Tracey Sarah Bloomfield
n Comments came courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/ITFCFB
CARL MARSTON’S OPINION
I BELIEVE Wickham should have been given a chance in Denmark, even if it was only for the final 15 minutes of one of the group matches.
The team did not play well throughout the tournament, and was crying out for an impact player – and Wickham is an impact player – to make a difference.
But the trip will have done him no harm. His appetite will be whetted for the season ahead.