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Jun, 29, 2011

Wickham signs for Sunderland

Sunderland have signed England Under-21 international Connor Wickham from Ipswich Town for a fee which could eventually rise to £12 million based upon various add-on clauses.

Sunderland have paid an initial fee of £8 million for Wickham, 18, who had also been tracked by Liverpool. It is believed he turned down the chance to move to Anfield in favour of a club where he would get more first-team opportunities.

Black Cats boss Steve Bruce was determined to sign the striker who scored the winner against Spain as England Under-17s won the 2010 European Championships. Though Wickham will arrive very raw, Bruce will hope to turn him into a Premier League quality target man quickly.

The Football League's Young Player of the Year has penned a deal which will run through to the summer of 2015. He was also part of the England Under-21 squad at this summer's European Championships.

Bruce said: "A number of top sides have been chasing Connor for some time now, so naturally we are absolutely delighted he has chosen to come to Sunderland.

"He's still very young, but at 6ft 3in he's a physical presence. With his height and style of play, he will offer us a threat in front of goal and complement our existing strikers.

"We have been watching him for a while now and he is improving and developing all the time. He's a great prospect and I'm sure our supporters will love watching him play.''

Meanwhile, Wickham has admitted it did not take Bruce long to persuade him his future lay on Wearside.

He told SAFC TV: "Once the fee was agreed and I met with the manager, he basically told me everything about the club and the ambitions, and it was sold. Now everything is done and dusted, I just really can't wait to get started.

"Ever since the speculation, I have never felt pressured. I have never felt intimidated by what has gone on off the pitch or who has come in or anything like that. But now I am obviously relieved to have everything done.

"The weight has been lifted off my shoulders now. I can get back to playing football, and I know where I am going to be next season. I just want to play now.''

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