Former Sunderland striker Connor Wickham has ended a 17-month injury nightmare to make a comeback to football on Tuesday afternoon.

Wickham ruptured his cruciate against Swansea City in November 2016 and was not able to play again until he came off the bench for Crystal Palace’s under-23s against Cardiff City this week.

Palace won the game 4-0, with Wickham playing the final 20 minutes and seeing his sole chance – a close-range header – saved by the Bluebirds’ goalkeeper.

The 24-year-old has had a real tough time of late, with his own eagerness to play causing more damage than good.

Roy Hodgson told the Croyden Advertiser a fortnight ago: “Connor did break down in training a month ago and that was because of his enthusiasm and his desire to push on.

“He’s always fighting, or was always fighting the medical and sports science people that he can do more and he should be at a different level and should be in with the U23s playing already.

“They have told him to be careful, and of course what happened was he did push on and he did stretch their patience and advice to the limit, and they let him loose a little bit and he pulled his calf muscle, injured his calf.

“So it was nothing to do with his knee, it was just a muscle injury.

“It’s taken him three or four weeks, I think. I haven’t got that detail, to be honest. I don’t see him out on the field so often to get over that.

“Now, he’s back out again training fully and he’s fully recovered from that. He thinks his knee is fine.”

Connor Wickham of Crystal Palace leaves the stadium on crutches

Sunderland themselves have suffered similar issues with Northern Ireland international Paddy McNair who has continued to suffer niggly muscle injuries on the leg despite recovering from a similar injury to Wickham.

The Palace striker departed Sunderland back in 2015 for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £9m.

He’s struggled at Selhurst Park, making just 34 appearances in almost three seasons and scoring just nine.

He had four years on Wearside after joining as a promising youngster from Ipswich, but failed to live up to the early hype.

He will most fondly remembered for his role in the miraculous safety fight under Gus Poyet in 2014, however. He scored five in three games to help the Black Cats earn valuable wins and seal Premier League safety.

And with Sunderland battling relegation again now, only this time in the Championship, they could really do with one of their current strikers finding that kind of form some time in their final nine games.

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