Wickham set for England step-up

Football: England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce says Ipswich Town striker Connor Wickham is very much on his radar.

Pearce’s squad are have been in Essex since Saturday in preparation for this afternoon’s vital European Championship qualifier against Lithuania at Colchester United’s Weston Homes Community Stadium (4pm).

Talking in the town where Wickham went to school, Pearce says the 17-year-old is one of the players that has caught his eye this year.

“Every young England player is on my radar,” said the former international left-back, who also works closely with senior England boss Fabio Capello.

“Whether it is Connor or anybody else, we won’t go more than two games without watching them.

“Connor is certainly in the category of players we are watching. I saw him myself towards the back end of last season and was impressed.”

Wickham – who only turned 17 in March this year – scored three goals at this summer’s European Under-17 Championships, including the winner in the final as England beat Spain 2-1 to take the title.

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Prior to that the powerful teenager had enjoyed a superb finish to the Championship season with Ipswich, scoring four goals in nine games.

Those performances have led to him being labelled one of the hottest prospects in English football, with Premier League duo Tottenham or Arsenal rumoured to have considered bids of �8m plus for his services in the close season.

Wickham has missed the start of the new campaign after injuring his ankle in pre-season training and faces a battle on his hands to get back in the team ahead of new signing Jason Scotland and Tamas Priskin upon his scheduled return towards the end of the month.

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