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Football League Daily - Wickham and Gardner bound for Sunderland


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By Stephen Clark

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Ipswich Town wonder kid Connor Wickham looks set to make the step up to the Premier League with the East Anglian club accepting a bid reported to be £9m from Sunderland for the 18-year-old striker.


Wickham, who was Ipswich’s youngest ever player when he made his debut against Doncaster Rovers in April 2009, just 11 days after his 16th birthday, is expected to arrive on Wearside on Wednesday to undertake a medical and to discuss personal terms.


Sunderland appear to have beaten Liverpool to the signing of the youngster, although with the deal not yet concluded, the Anfield club could still scupper the deal should they also meet the valuation set by Ipswich.


Wickham was a member of England’s squad for the recent European Under-21 Championships in Denmark but failed to make an appearance for Stuart Pearce’s side. He was however more successful on the international front last season when he scored the winning goal for England’s Under-17’s as they won the European Championship by beating Spain 2-1 in Liechtenstein.


Ipswich strengthened their position by persuading Wickham to sign a new contract in April, tying him to the club until 2014. Nevertheless, despite the protestations of the Tractor Boys boss Paul Jewell last week, it seemed inevitable that Ipswich would cash in on their hottest property. "We don't want to sell Connor Wickham, but if he wants to leave and the right offer comes in then we'll have to consider it,” he told BBC Radio Suffolk.


However, Jewell appeared to have already made contingency plans for the departure of Wickham with the recent arrivals of Michael Chopra from Cardiff and Nathan Ellington from Watford.


Another Championship player set to join Sunderland is Birmingham City’s Craig Gardner, who is expected to sign for the Black Cats on Wednesday in a £6M deal.


Gardner would be seen as a replacement for Jordan Henderson who recently moved from Sunderland to Liverpool in a £20M deal.


Whilst the player exodus continues from St Andrews, with Scott Dann and Cameron Jerome the subject of a failed £10m double swoop by Stoke City on Wednesday, new manager Chris Hughton is looking to bolster his backroom staff by approaching Hibernian for permission to speak to Colin Calderwood. The former Nottingham Forest boss was tipped to join his old club as Steve McLaren’s assistant, but is remaining tight lipped over any speculation.


Calderwood, speaking to reporters at a press conference on Friday, said: "I can't sit here and say categorically there's nothing that would excite me elsewhere, if there is any truth in the stories, I'm in a wonderful position and I should be thankful for that. But my job at the minute is to be here."


Whilst Calderwood’s future is unsure Kasper Schmeichel’s has been settled, with the Leeds United goalkeeper signing a three-year-deal with Leicester City following his transfer from Elland Road for an undisclosed fee. The deal was widely expected to be completed once Leeds had revealed they had accepted the offer from Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side last week.


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