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O'Neill looks at Wickham as a possible

MARTIN O'NEILL says he will investigate if Sunderland youngster Connor Wickham is a possible recruit for the Republic of Ireland.

Wickham was a teenage sensation with Ipswich Town and the then Sunderland boss Steve Bruce paid £8m for the forward in 2011. Wickham went on to feature for the Black Cats under O'Neill but the progress of his club career has slowed down and he's currently on loan to Sheffield Wednesday.

He has also featured at underage international level for England, playing for the U-21s as recently as last August, but he's a long way off the senior squad with England and it has been reported that Wickham could be a target for Northern Ireland and the Republic as he has a grandparent from the North, something that O'Neill will chase up.

"I need to check exactly what the rules are," O'Neill said. "I don't think I am in a position at this minute to turn around anything, and if someone tells me someone is available, particularly someone I have worked with and might have a chance, I would give it some consideration.

"In my latter days at Sunderland, it looked as if he really wanted to become a professional player.

"He is out on loan at this minute at Sheffield Wednesday and Connor would be the first to say that to go and play in the Premier League week in, week out is still a big task."