Why Connor Wickham is a gamble that Nottingham Forest can’t afford
According to Telegraph (h/t Nottinghamshire Live), Nottingham Forest have been linked with a January loan move for out-of-favour Crystal Palace striker Connor Wickham, with Reds manager Sabri Lamouchi keen to bolster his attack during the mid-season trading period.
The Reds are joined in their pursuit of the striker by Watford, who are currently without a manager and struggling for survival in the Premier League. (Telegraph h/t Nottinghamshire Live)
Born in Hereford, Connor Wickham rose through the youth system at Reading and completed his footballing education at Ipswich Town before turning professional with the Tractor Boys in the Championship.
A decent scoring record of 13 goals in 65 league outings for the East Anglian outfit paved the way for a switch to the Premier League with Sunderland back in 2011 and Wickham, who was then playing for England across various age-group levels, was tipped for a big future in the top-flight.
However, a four-year stint at the Stadium of Light yielded meagre returns of 15 goals in 91 appearances across all competitions for the Black Cats, with Wickham also spending time on loan at Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship.
Wickham showed signs of resurgence with a decent tally of 5 goals in 21 outings for the Eagles during his first season at Selhurst Park but has since faded into complete obscurity.
A career-threatening knee-injury suffered in November 2016 kept him out of the first-team fold in South London until December 2018 before Wickham returned to the playing eleven in January 2019 to score the opener in the 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the FA Cup, his first goal for the Eagles in over two years.
Despite the 26-year-old putting pen to paper on a one-year contract extension at Selhurst Park until 2021 prior to the start of the ongoing season, Wickham has only been handed a couple of cameos from the bench in the Premier League by Roy Hodgson so far.
To put things into perspective, Nottingham Forest certainly need another genuine goalscorer in their squad to provide cover and competition for go-to man Lewis Grabban, but Connor Wickham is a gamble that they simply cannot afford in January if they are really serious about making a dream return to the Premier League after more than two decades.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Hereford-born ace has a wealth of Championship and Premier League experience in his CV, it is imperative to say that Wickham has been gathering dust at Crystal Palace over the good part of the last couple of years due to his struggles with injuries.
Besides the obvious concerns regarding his fitness levels to compete at this level, he just doesn’t have a prolific enough record in his previous seasons to warrant a move to the City Ground in January to help the Reds in their surge for promotion.
With Wolves loanee Rafa Mir already failing to make an impact, bringing in another striker like Wickham with a questionable strike rate and a patchy injury record would only be a waste of resources and a burden on the club’s wage bill.
Forest already have a massive squad and adding more deadwood to it won’t be the best idea given that Connor Wickham hasn’t been in the thick of things for a long time now.
The striking department is not an area where Forest should be looking to play any gambles in January considering that they are very much in contention for promotion and they shouldn’t pour cold water on all the hard work they have done so far with some poor transfer business.
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All in all, Nottingham Forest would be wise enough to avoid a loan deal for Connor Wickham in January, as such a move could prove detrimental to their promotion hopes.