Sunderland’s Di Canio stands by struggling Ji

Sunderland's Ji Dong-won.
Sunderland's Ji Dong-won.
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PAOLO Di Canio praised Connor Wickham and defended Ji Dong-won as he reflected on a tale of two strikers at the Stadium of Light last night.

The South Korean put in an abject display in the Capital One Cup game against the MK Dons and the only surprise when he was subbed in the 50th minute was that the hook had not come sooner.

In contrast, his replacement Connor Wickham went on to enjoy an excellent game – producing an assist for Sunderland’s first goal and then going on to score two more himself.

“Connor took his chance to play well,” acknowledged the head coach.

“He did well at Southampton and he turned the game against the MK Dons.

“I have been impressed with him over the last couple of weeks, he has shown a lot.

“I’m very happy because he’s another player we can use in the future. I hope now that Connor does not switch off – he has to use this as a starting point.

“He has fought hard to get a position in the side and that’s what he needs to do now, to carry it on from here.

“But this was a very good game for him and he had a big say in us getting the win.”

As for Ji, Di Canio chose not to be too hard on the South Korean.

“He’s a very good quality player but it is difficult for him to play in this environment where every mistake causes a reaction.

“I understand how the fans fell because I was fan once.

“But I cannot fault his attitude – he gives everything in training and he’s technically a very good player – and I need to build his belief.

“This wasn’t a good game for him and he knows that as a striker he has to hold on to the ball better and look to play it simple.

“But he could still be an important player for us.”