Bruce: Wickham can only get better
Teenage striker Connor Wickham "can only get better" according to Sunderland boss Steve Bruce after marking his full Stadium of Light league debut with a stunning strike in the 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.
The 18-year-old, who joined the Black Cats in an £8million deal with Ipswich in the summer, had already earned rave reviews for his display in his Barclays Premier League debut at Bolton last week. And he underlined his potential with a powerful left-foot strike past Shay Given in the 38th minute as his side twice battled back from behind to grab a share of the points in a high-tempo clash.
Bruce said: "It's a great strike with his left foot - his wrong foot - and it will do him the world of good. There's not many people who score goals in the Premier League at 18 years old."
He added: "I think you can really see his potential and he can only get better. He was playing against two really, really good centre-backs today in James Collins and Richard Dunne, and for me he did very, very well."
However Wickham's goal was not the pick of an action-packed afternoon, with Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov taking that honour with a magnificent long-range drive to put his side ahead in the 20th minute.
Petrov's finish belied the fact that it was only his sixth goal in 167 appearances for Villa, and boss Alex McLeish admitted he was a little surprised the Bulgarian has not got on the scoresheet more often.
McLeish said: "Stiliyan scored a lot of goals with Celtic but he was more of an attacking midfielder. He has had to modify his game a little bit and has been used in a different way.
"He's a great striker of the ball and he's also pretty accurate from distance, so if we can get him in those positions more often we should see him scoring more of those kinds of goals."