Sunderland 4 Cardiff City 0: Gus Poyet challenges Connor Wickham to write his name into Black Cats folklore and lead Sunderland to safety

Striker has scored five goals in three games to lift Sunderland out of the relegation zone

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The Independent Football

Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet urged striker Connor Wickham to write his name in Wearside folklore.

The 21-year-old claimed a double as the Black Cats lifted themselves out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone with a 4-0 victory over Cardiff to take his tally since his return from a loan spell at Leeds to five goals in three games.

His efforts to date have helped Poyet's men to claim a draw at Manchester City and wins over Chelsea and the Bluebirds which have revitalised a season which looked to be spinning out of control.

It has been a remarkable turn-around for a man who previously had failed to make an impact an first-team level following his £8.1million switch from Ipswich in June 2011.


Asked if he had ever seen a player return from a loan spell to such effect, Poyet admitted: "No, I haven't, but I can tell you that I was hoping for that, that was the idea.

"Connor needed a run of games. I'm sure that in football, there are plenty of players who would like to come and see the manager and say, 'Come on, give me five games'.

"It's not that easy. But because of everything that has happened during the season, I was in a position where I was able to say, 'Go on, play from here and then it's up to you. It's not me, it's you'.

"He is changing our season around and if he if he maintains the level, he could be up there as one of the most remembered players at Sunderland, which would be great for him for the future."

Wickham headed the Black Cats into a 26th-minute lead and was then at the centre of the incident which swung the game firmly in his side's favour.

He capitalised on defender Juan Cala's error to run in on goal, only to be dragged back by the Spaniard, although referee Phil Dowd allowed play to continue before going back to the original incident and awarding a penalty and a red card.

Poyet said: "It's the best decision I have ever seen from a referee in my life, it's as simple as that.

"If we really want to stop players going down easily, this is the way, so all the credit to Phil today because he did what we all wanted, but it was for some reason not possible."

Fabio Borini converted the penalty and second-half goals from substitute Emanuele Giaccherini and Wickham wrapped up Sunderland's biggest league win since March 2010 and eased them into 17th place on goal difference.

Cardiff replaced them at the foot of the table, but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is convinced they can still rescue themselves.

He said: "Yes, definitely. Two wins, that's what we at least thought needed before today, and we have got to go to Newcastle next week and try to win that one.

"You have got characters there. You could see them out there, still at 4-0 down, they don't give up, they don't sulk, they don't stop doing their best and that's what we have got to do for the next two weeks."