Connor Wickham's scoring touch has England Under-21s in cruise control

England Under-21 2 Northern Ireland Under-21 0

Bloomfield Road

Stuart Pearce, the England Under-21s manager, was delighted to see Connor Wickham enjoying himself with his side last night during a frustrating period with Sunderland.

Wickham is in good form for Pearce's side, taking his tally to three goals in his last four appearances for the team with the opener in a comfortable win over Northern Ireland in Blackpool. The striker looked a threat throughout the contest and had already hit the bar – and received stitches for a head injury – before he nodded home in the 45th minute.

At club level, though, Wickham has barely had a chance to showcase his ability this season. "He is not playing regularly and we need to make sure we supplement his confidence and fitness, and that we get to see his ability on occasions at Under-21 level.," Pearce said. "I think he showed that tonight and he looks as though he is enjoying himself out there.

"I see his demeanour around the place and he is enjoying meeting up with us."

Wickham led the line from the start after his match-winning substitute appearance in the Under-21s' Euro 2013 play-off victory in Serbia last month and he was soon making a nuisance of himself, meeting Jack Robinson's cut-back with a strike that came back off the bar.

The 19-year-old made the breakthrough just before half-time as he rose to crash home a header from Jordan Henderson's delivery.

The one-way traffic continued after the break, with Manchester United's Nick Powell firing too high, Conor Devlin in the Northern Ireland goal saving a Robinson shot with his legs and Blackpool winger Tom Ince, playing at his club's ground, scooping the ball over from a good position.

Pearce made a raft of substitutions, with Harry Maguire, Derby's Will Hughes – the 17-year-old midfielder becoming the second youngest English player to appear at this level – and Afobe among those coming on to make their Under-21 debuts.

After Ince and Tom Lees had shots blocked, Afobe was brought down by the out-rushing Devlin in the area and the striker, who plays for Bolton on loan from Arsenal, stepped up to convert the penalty.

England Under-21 Amos (Steele, 46); Smith (Clyne, 60), Wisdom (Maguire, 60), Lees, Robinson (Moore, 84), McEachran (Hughes, 66), Ince (Waghorn, 77), Henderson (Chalobah, 77), Townsend (Afobe 60), Powell, Wickham.

Northern Ireland Under-21 Devlin (Glendinning, 78), Hodson (C McLaughlin, 46),Flanagan (McEleney, 46); Thompson (Hegarty, 82), McKeown (Donnelly, 85), Clucas (Morgan, 67), Lund (McAlinden, 78), P McLaughlin, Winchester (Gorman, 61), Magennis (Boyce, 90), Carson.

Referee J Beaton (Scotland).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz