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9 December 2014, 16:17
Striker Connor Wickham has signed a new four-year deal with Sunderland.
The England Under-21 international, whose five goals in three games in April played a major part in keeping the Black Cats in the Barclays Premier League, was due to be out of contract in the summer.
Had new terms not been agreed he would have been able to sign a pre-contract overseas in January, while closer to home the likes of West Ham and Crystal Palace have reportedly shown interest.
Wickham, who signed from Ipswich for £8.1million in 2011, has found the net three times in the current campaign, twice in the league.
Having tied the 21-year-old down until 2019, Sunderland manager Gus Poyet said:
``I'm delighted that Connor has committed his future to us for the next few years. After his contribution at the end of last year, he has continued to improve his football and become an important part of our team."
``He keeps learning, he is able to adapt to different positions up front and he is enjoying our philosophy of play so I'm really looking forward to keep working with him for the benefit of our club."
``I think it was very important to tie down a young English centre forward as there are not many around; this shows clearly the way this football club wants to progress.''
Prior to Wickham's rich vein of form at the tail end of last season he had largely failed to live up to his teenage promise at the Stadium of Light and had previously been sent on loan to Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds.