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Wickham On Recovery, Pardew & Team Spirit

22 October 2015

Palace striker Connor Wickham has had to endure a difficult start to life in SE25. After a promising start, which included a massive performance in the 2-1 away win at Stamford Bridge, the 22-year-old has been battling back from a calf injury, which has kept him out of action since that victory.

"It's been massively frustrating," he admitted, when discussing his early setback at CPFC. "I was excited [to come here], I got the move down, met up with the lads and I was joining in straight away. I got in the team. It's just something that's come up, it's been niggling me. It's kept me out and it's got me down, but I'm feeling better now.

"It's hard to get match fit in training, I don't think it's really possible. You feed off the adrenaline and you take energy from the crowd in a match, but you can't replicate that in training," he said. 

"I go to all the home games and I'm dying to get back out there again. I want to get back in the team and help the lads and the gaffer. I'm working hard, I'm doing my running, I'm doing my drills and working on my ball work. It's all coming together slowly but surely, so when I'm back I'll be sure to be firing on all cylinders."

Wickham, who signed from Sunderland in the summer, has returned to training and is hoping to be back in first-team contention within the next few weeks, saying: "Hopefully [I'll be back] within the next fortnight, that's my aim. I've been out for a long time now. 

"I feel that I've worked hard the whole time I've been out. I've rested when I've needed to rest and I've worked when I've had to work. It's been a long six weeks or so and hopefully I should be back soon."

The striker has nothing but praise for manager Alan Pardew, who was instrumental in bringing him to south London, calling the Eagles boss "fantastic."

"He's the one that brought me here," he said. "They paid a lot of money and I came, so I feel I've let some people down and got injured. I've got to take it and make sure when I'm back I repay the faith that made him bring me here in the first place.

"He's fantastic. I spoke to him a couple of days before I signed and that was what sold it. He gave me a feeling that managers that I've had before haven't really, it was confidence and that's what every footballer feeds off. That was the most important thing. It was like a weight had been lifted, I actually had a manager that wanted me and I wanted to come to the team. I came thinking that he's a secure manager. 

"I spoke to a few players from this club and ones that he'd worked with before and they all told me good things, so it was kind of a no-brainer," he added about the move.

Wickham also had plenty of praise for his Palace teammates, insisting that they are all pulling in the same direction, for each other and the club. 

"From the second I walked into the changing room the boys have been great," he said. "There are no egos in the team, there's no hierarchy, nobody is put on a pedestal. Everyone's reading off the same sheet and I think that's why we've surprised a few people so far and we've raised eyebrows, because our performances have probably shocked people. We're sitting pretty high up the table and we've got some quality players.

"We have a work ethic that I think is hard to recreate - it's an energy that's rare to find and that's the main thing here, we've got hard work, grit and determination throughout the team. And we've also got a lot of quality as well, so I think all those things put together makes for a really good thing.

"During the time I've been out I've been at every game, I've been in the dressing room before and I feel the atmosphere, the energy, the vibes and everything has been good. There's no negativity, even when we lose. Every team loses, we have to take it on the chin," he added. 

"We're mentally tough and we know that if something doesn't go right we have the chance to make it right next time out."

Palace find themselves sitting comfortably in sixth place in the Premier League table, following a superb start to the 2015-16 season, and Wickham says the aim is to keep that going, to not just settle for a middle-of-the-road campaign.

"The manager said to us at the start what the aim was: we want to push up as high as we can, we don't want to settle for mid-table," he said. 

"We don't want to just finish ninth, tenth, eleventh, we have ambitions of eighth and above. That's what we have to work for. I feel very confident in this team, the boys are confident in themselves, we're happy, there's a real buzz. We've put ourselves about against some of the best teams in the world, narrowly losing to Arsenal and City, taking the points away at Chelsea. We have a lot of things to work on, but we have a lot of things we deserve credit for."

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