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Wickham plays down exit talk; Toure agrees Al Nasr deal

Sunderland A.F.C. striker Connor Wickham has played down speculation linking him with a summer move away from the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland A.F.C. striker Connor Wickham has played down speculation linking him with a summer move away from the Stadium of Light amid reported interest from a host of Championship clubs, including Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday, Sky Sports understands.

Since joining Sunderland from Ipswich Town for a fee of £8 million in the summer of 2011, Wickham has failed to establish himself as a first-team regular.

The England youth international, 20, has scored just two goals in 33 appearances (10 starts) for the Black Cats over the past two seasons.

However, Wickham is ready to fight for a place in Paolo Di Canio’s starting XI. The 20-year-old striker faces competition from Jozy Altidore, Mikael Mandron and Steven Fletcher.

“I don’t have any plans to move away,” Wickham told The Journal. “I want to break into this team, into a Premier League side. That’s my aim for this season.

“It’s just down to myself to get into the team, no one else can do it but me.

“So my aim is to stay here and work hard, and get into this manager’s team. I hope he wants to get the best out of me. He wants to help me every day, he tells me where I can improve.

“It’s when a manager stops trying to help you that you need to worry. For me, the manager’s doing all he can, he’s given me a fair crack on the training pitch.

“He’s always watching, and trying to help the strikers especially. So it’s a good chance for me to show him that I’m capable of doing the things he needs.”

Sunderland will kick-off their 2013/14 English Premier League campaign against Fulham on Saturday.

The betting odds for Saturday’s fixture at the Stadium of Light are as follows: Sunderland (6/5) v. Fulham (23/10); Draw (12/5).

Place your bets carefully!

Toure agrees Al Nasr deal

Al Nasr SC have completed the signing of Senegal international striker Ibrahima Touré from AS Monaco FC for an undisclosed fee, according the club’s official website, www.alnasrclub.com.

Touré, who joined Monaco from UAE Pro-League side Ajman Club in January 2012, is Al Nasr’s second major signing of the summer following the arrival of Australia international forward Brett Holman from Aston Villa.

The Senegalese talisman, 27, was deemed to be surplus to requirements by manager Claudio Ranieri after the summer arrivals of Emmanuel Rivière, James Rodríguez and Radamel Falcao, much to the delight of Al Nasr and the club’s vice-chairman Ahmed Khouri.

“We are very happy to have him,” said Khouri.

“There were long, long negotiations to get Toure here, but we’re really excited and delighted to have him on board. He will add a lot of value to the club.”

Touré, formerly of Iran Pro League giants Persepolis F.C., bagged an impressive 31 goals in 57 competitive appearances for Monaco, including a team high 18 goals in 35 Ligue 2 appearances last term.

Thu 15 August, 2013
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