Why Sheffield Wednesday should sign Connor Wickham on loan in January
According to the Sheffield Star, Sheffield Wednesday have set their sights on bolstering their attack with a loan deal for out-of-favour Crystal Palace striker Connor Wickham during the January transfer window.
The Owls have been dealt a massive blow in their pursuit of a playoff spot in the Championship, with top-scorer Steven Fletcher expected to be on the treatment for the next 8 to 10 weeks after suffering a serious knee injury against Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup.
Now, as per the report, Wednesday boss Garry Monk is desperate to sign an immediate replacement for Fletcher and has identified Wickham as someone who fits the bill. The 26-year-old has struggled for regular minutes at Selhurst Park and it is understood that Palace wouldn’t stand in the way of a loan move during the mid-season window.
Wickham, who initially shot to prominence with Ipswich Town in the Championship, had a couple of loan stints at Hillsborough during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons while playing at Sunderland in the Premier League.
The Hereford-born hitman eventually went on to score 11 times in 79 PL appearances for the Black Cats before earning a move to Crystal Palace in the summer of 2015.
A promising start to life at Selhurst Park soon turned into an injury spell after Wickham suffered a serious knee injury midway through the 2016-17 campaign that kept him out of action for the entirety of the 2017-18 season.
Wickham returned to action towards the second half of the previous campaign but he has never really managed to establish himself under Roy Hodgson. The 27-year-old has been limited to just 4 substitute appearances in the Premier League this term, although each of his last two cameos has yielded a goal contribution against Norwich City and West Ham.
Meanwhile, Sheffield Wednesday booked their seat in the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory over Brighton, thanks to Adam Reach’s winner, but the Owls’ recent dip in form in the Championship continues to be a cause of concern for Garry Monk.
Wednesday have slipped down to 8th in the standings after three consecutive defeats against Stoke City, Cardiff City and Hull City but they are still only a couple of points adrift of the top-six, and Monk thankfully has time on his side to get the club’s campaign back on track.
However, with top-scorer Steven Fletcher now sidelined with an injury, the Owls have a massive void to fill in the coming months. They have relied heavily on the veteran to deliver the goods in front of goal this term and his injury lay-off could necessitate some immediate action in the transfer window.
Despite his hat-trick heroics against Nottingham Forest in December, Jordan Rhodes continues to be a peripheral figure in the ranks while Sam Winnall, who is out of contract in 2020, has emerged as a target for League One promotion-hopefuls Sunderland. (h/t Northern Echo)
Adthe Nuhoi and Winnall have netted only thrice in the Championship between them and with Fletcher expected to miss 8 to 10 weeks of action, it is a no-brainer that the Owls need to cast their rod into the January transfer pond to rope in a replacement.
To put things into perspective, Connor Wickham hasn’t played a lot of football in recent years, having suffered a significant fall in grace from a bright young talent to a forgotten man, but his proven track record in the Championship makes him worth a gamble for the promotion-chasing Owls.
The 27-year-old’s career has been tormented by injuries, but when fit, he is certainly capable of making a big difference, and the fact that Wickham has been free of injuries this season means that he could aid Wednesday in their surge for the playoffs if a move to Hillsborough does materialize before the January deadline.
Looking at things from the player’s perspective, Wickham’s career at Palace looks all but over and a loan move to Hillsborough could offer him a much-needed escape route to rediscover the old touch that once made him a hot prospect in English football.