Wickham to be one of a few ‘main men’
IPSWICH Town must not rely too heavily on rising star Connor Wickham for next season.
Wickham is very much Town’s man-of-the-moment, having signed a two-year deal and scored a superb solo goal at Derby County on Easter Monday.
But manager Roy Keane wants four strikers to be “his main men” for next season, not just wonder kid Wickham.
And he points to Nottingham Forest, tomorrow’s hosts, as a good example – substitute striker Robert Earnshaw was unleashed off the bench to deny Town a home win over Forest in mid-September.
“We can’t just be dependent on Connor next year, far from it,” insisted Keane.
“Sometimes you need six really good strikers. Looking at Forest we saw that when we played them down here. That’s why these teams are up near the top, they score goals.
“We will need to share the load for next season. We probably won’t have six strikers, but we really need three or four who we can say are the main men for us.”
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Wickham, who celebrated his 17th birthday just nine days ago, produced a man-of-the-match performance in the 3-1 win at Derby County.
He is an exciting prospect for all Town fans and Keane believes that the big centre-forward will benefit from having his first professional contract, a two-year deal, all signed and sealed.
“His performance last Monday – the way he led the line, he could have scored after just two minutes, his assist for the second goal, he scored the third one – but overall his whole body language was very, very good,” explained Keane.
“I think it’s helped that his contract has been sorted out. As much as we say it shouldn’t bother him, sometimes it can, particularly when there’s speculation about the boy.
“He can put that to bed and enjoy the last few games. He can then have a good rest this summer, that’s important, and have a big part to play for us next season.
“But I’m not going to sit here and say that he’s going to be a future England star.
“It all comes down to the player. We’ve got some other good young players coming through as well.
“I’ll have very little to do with it, we can be here to guide them. But it comes down to the boy and his family.”
Keane predicts a big challenge ahead for Wickham.
He continued: “The way he plays is beyond belief, in terms of his age.
“If he keeps performing like he is for the rest of this season, you’ll certainly think he’ll be in the main group for next season. But whether he can do it, week in week out, in the Championship, is obviously difficult for any striker.”