Di Canio believes Wickham maybe needs a ‘slap’

Connor Wickham Sunderland StrikerSunderland boss Paulo Di Canio has said he maybe needs to “slap” young striker Connor Wickham “in his face” to motivate him.

Wickham, who on Tuesday was named in Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21 squad for the upcoming European Championships in Israel, has so far failed to live up to his potential at the Stadium of Light.

The 20-year-old, who was signed by former boss Martin O’Neill in 2011, was rated as one of the brightest prospects around a couple of years ago but he has managed just two goals for Sunderland and has often had to settle for a place on the bench at best in the Premier League.

And now Di Canio has admitted the youngster can be frustrating:

“Maybe, with this guy, I have to slap his face a little bit,” the Sunderland boss said. “I’m talking about motivating him in a genuine way because he has so much potential.

“But sometimes he comes in and he seems to be looking around saying, ‘Where am I?’ I want to say, ‘You are on the football pitch, with the grass’.”

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