Sunderland look to tie down Wickham

Connor Wickham.
Connor Wickham.

SUNDERLAND remain determined to extend Connor Wickham’s stay at the Stadium of Light, with only a “silly money” offer likely to tempt the Black Cats into selling the striker.

The Black Cats swiftly rejected a £4million bid from West Ham for Wickham’s services yesterday, with Hammers boss Sam Allardyce now contemplating whether to make a fresh approach for the 21-year-old, as he looks to replace crocked ex-Newcastle United frontman Andy Carroll.

Sunderland very much see Wickham as part of the club’s future and are still hopeful that the England Under-21 international will extend his contract at the Stadium of Light.

The Echo understands that it would take a huge offer - likely to be in excess of £10m - for Sunderland to even consider parting company with Wickham, who arrived on Wearside in an £8m deal three years ago.

Head coach Gus Poyet indicated last week that Wickham would be sold if he didn’t pen a new contract, with his current deal due to expire next summer.

But contracts are inevitably a sensitive subject at present for Sunderland after the club were stung by academy product Jack Colback joining Newcastle on a free transfer this summer, albeit the Black Cats would be owed compensation for an out-of-contract Wickham due to his age.

Talks are continuing with Wickham’s agent over a new deal and although the two parties remain some distance apart in their initial valuations, Poyet is relaxed over the situation.

Sources close to Wickham have indicated too that he would be prepared to pen a new contract if he received a concrete offer from Sunderland.

And while Wickham’s situation is a pressing concern for sporting director Lee Congerton, the primary objective for Sunderland over the next three weeks is strengthening the squad with further reinforcements.

Sunderland have renewed their interest in Brighton winger Will Buckley after seeing a January bid rejected for the 24-year-old, who played under Poyet during his time in charge of the Seagulls.

Poyet is keen to bring in another wideman, in addition to main target Fabio Borini, with Sunderland reportedly submitting a fresh offer of around £2.5m for Buckley, who is not a target for West Brom, despite reports to the contrary.

Brighton may be more prepared to offload Buckley now than they were in January - when Seagulls midfielder Liam Bridcutt moved to the Stadium of Light.

Buckley’s future under new Brighton boss Sami Hyypia was thrown into doubt over the weekend after academy product Shamir Fenelon was surprisingly preferred in the starting line-up for their opening day defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

Sunderland are also continuing their bid to sign Manchester City new boy Bruno Zuculini on a six-month loan after the Argentine midfielder, signed in a £3m deal from Racing Club this summer, made his debut in Sunday’s Community Shield.