Date: 22nd June 2011 at 8:13pm
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Sunderland have made what is understood to be the first firm bid for Ipswich Town striker Connor Wickham with an offer of £8 million.

Steve Bruce’s side had been heavily linked with a move for Wickham two weeks ago, with reports suggesting that the Mackems were battling with Premier League rivals Liverpool for the teenager’s signature. Any such reports were shown to be false at the time after the club revealed that no bids had been received, but it is believed that Bruce has now tabled a firm offer for the 18-year-old, potentially sparking a bidding war with other prospective suitors.

Although Wickham recently extended his contract at Portman Road until 2014, the deal is widely thought to include a clause which will allow the England U21 international to hold talks with any club that bids a certain minimum figure, believed to be between £10 million and £15 million. Sunderland’s offer is reported to include several clauses which may subsequently raise the value of their bid above the £10 million threshold, but Wickham is unlikely to move to the Stadium of Light if a rival bid is received from the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal, who were all linked with the striker during last season.

Rumours about Wickham’s future have been spreading for a long time but speculation has grown notably in recent weeks, particularly following the arrival of new strikers Michael Chopra and Nathan Ellington at Portman Road. However, Town manager Paul Jewell has already stressed that Wickham is still very much in his plans for next season.

‘We don’t want to sell Connor Wickham, but if he wants to leave and the right offer comes in then we’ll have to consider it,’ Jewell told BBC Radio Suffolk. ‘But until then – Connor’s never given me any indication he wants to leave – our backs aren’t against the wall, we’re in control of the situation.’

One striker who might not be in Jewell’s plans however is Jason Scotland. The 32-year-old, who only has one year left on his contract, looks a likely casualty of the changes to the Town strikeforce. Sheffield Wednesday chairman Milan Mandaric is understood to have confirmed recent reports linking the Owls with a move for Scotland, whilst yesterday Brighton & Hove Albion were also claimed to be interested in the Trinidad striker.

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