Wickham playing his way into Poyet's plans

Connor Wickham's double against Manchester City could earn him a starting place in Sunderland's run-in, according to Gus Poyet.

The striker has made only four starts in the Premier League for Sunderland this season and netted his first top-flight goals of the season with two strikes in 10 minutes at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Poyet has plenty of options in attack at the Stadium of Light and Wickham has spent time out on loan as the Uruguayan deployed Jozy Altidore, Steven Fletcher and Fabio Borini in attack.

However, a lack of firepower and injuries to the likes of Fletcher prompted Poyet to give Wickham a chance and he repaid the faith with a brace in the unexpected 2-2 draw against City.

And the Sunderland head coach has challenged the 21-year-old to prove he deserves to retain his place in the starting XI as the club battle to avoid relegation. 

"When I got to the club there were five or six strikers and it was impossible to play them all," said Poyet.

"He's still young and he needs to play so we gave him the chance to go and play.

"He played well, we brought him back, then he went on loan again, and then we had a few issues at the top and I made the decision to bring him back and play him.

"If he delivers, you want to keep playing him. In our situation, if you deliver something important, you put yourself in the team.

"Don't worry I'll find the shape for you to play, because you deserve to play."

The point against City moved rock-bottom Sunderland to within six points of safety with five games remaining of the campaign.