SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Owls in the race for £12m striker Connor Wickham

Hot property: Young Sunderland striker Connor Wickham
Hot property: Young Sunderland striker Connor Wickham
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SHEFFIELD Wednesday’s interest in the England Under 21 striker Connor Wickham indicates the club’s ambition to strengthen for The Championship battle ahead.

However, the Owls will face stiff opposition for the Sunderland youngster who is in the England Under-21 squad for tonight’s friendly with Northern Ireland at Blackpool.

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has indicated that he is willing to let Wickham go out on loan and Wednesday are understood to be among the clubs to have made an inquiry.

He has not been in the frame for a starting place this season at the Premier League club, who have several experienced strikers ahead of him, and O’Neill feels it would be right for him to have games elsewhere.

Still only 19, his move from Ipswich some 17 months ago was for £8 million, rising to £12 million depending on various factors and add-ons.

Tonight’s U-21 fixture offers the perfect opportunity for Wickham to be checked out, with any move likely only after he is off England duty.

With such moves there is the issue of wages. Premier League clubs often agree to ‘share’ the load which, with five-figure weekly wages commonplace, would test a club’s financial capabilities.

Wednesday have also been linked with Stoke striker Cameron Jerome who worked with Owls boss Dave Jones at Cardiff.

The loan window closes in two weeks and Jones seems determined to do some business by then.

Meanwhile, Gary Madine was the subject of interest from League One Swindon Town but it received no encouragement from Wednesday. The striker was back in the side and scored in Friday’s defeat at Middlesbrough.