O'Neill key to Sunderland togetheness - Wickham

Sunderland forward Connor Wickham
Wickham cost Sunderland an initial fee of £8.1m from Ipswich Town

Sunderland striker Connor Wickham has said Martin O'Neill has brought a togetherness to the dressing room following his arrival on Wearside.

O'Neill succeeded Steve Bruce as Black Cats manager in early December, and has won five of eight games at the helm in both Premier League and FA Cup.

"You can see the passion he's got when we score goals, he's hugging everyone," Wickham told BBC Newcastle.

"It's brought the team closer to know the manager is so passionate."

Wickham added: "His man-management is brilliant, he's spoken to me a couple of times.

"It's encouraging for players to have a close bond with the manager."

Injuries, and cautious management has limited the England Under-21 international to just five starts since he moved to Wearside from Ipswich Town in June last year.

A knee injury suffered amid an innocuous fall in November's defeat by Manchester United forced the forward to miss all but three of the last 11 games.

However a return to the bench in the last two games has been welcome for player and club.

"I've never worried about injuries," Wickham added.

"We've got the best facilities around here, and I've got the right people looking after me, so I was always confident about coming back.

"I've had injuries before, I've had worse injuries that this before and I've come back fitter and stronger."

Wickham has scored one goal in 13 appearances for Sunderland.

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