Adam Johnson has backed Connor Wickham to finally come good in a Sunderland shirt – as Stephane Sessegnon’s future was thrown into doubt by his drink drive arrest.
Paolo Di Canio was already wrestling with Sessegnon’s poor form before the forward was arrested and bailed for drink driving in Newcastle on Tuesday night as Sunderland laboured to a Capital One Cup defeat of MK Dons. The player is certain to face a club fine and after Di Canio made an example of Phil Bardsley last season, he may have no option but to come down hard on a forward who was made available for transfer at the start of the summer.
Di Canio will no doubt address that issue at his press conference this afternoon but Sessegnon’s alleged indiscretion leaves the door open for Wickham, who excelled with a late match-winning cameo in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup defeat of MK Dons.
The England Under-21 striker doubled his tally in red and white with that brace but Johnson feels that he is now ready to finally show his worth to the Black Cat cause.
“He’s had a tough time here, especially the last couple of months of last season. He’s got through it now. I think he’s been excellent for the under-21s and everyone still forgets he’s only a young lad,” Johnson said.
“He’s got bags of potential but he’s worked so hard this pre-season to get himself into good shape and to try and get back among the goals. I know the manager has worked with him on different things. That’s starting to show now because he was excellent against Southampton. He’s got everything there – he’s big, he’s strong and he got his goals on Tuesday. He can get a lot of goals for us.”
Sessegnon’s future being up for debate adds another intriguing twist to Sunderland’s run up to transfer deadline day.
They are interested in Cheikh M’Bengue of Toulouse and are confident they will be able to broker a season-long loan for Ki Sung-Yueng, the Swansea midfielder who has been made available by the South Wales outfit. Johnson admits it has been a hectic summer and is hoping things will “settle” when the transfer deadline passes on Monday.
He said: “Sometimes the window is good because you can strengthen your squad. Obviously I don’t know what is going to happen here but the manager says he is looking to bring in even more new players and that could be a real plus point.
“The fans will be looking forward to that as well. We need the bodies for competition for places and that’s always a good thing. When it is out the way everything can maybe settle down, I suppose.” There was a fine goal by Johnson hmself on Tuesday as he built on some excellent early-season displays. He hopes that is the start of a run which puts him back into England contention.
“Hopefully the goal is the start of something and I can get a few more because that’s a target for me,” the Easington-born player said.
“It’s always nice to get the win and of course to score yourself is always an added bonus. To get a goal early is good for me and hopefully it will kick-start a bit of a run of goals. I want to get into the next game now and prove what I can do.”