Crystal Palace striker Connor Wickham admits he cannot wait to take on former club Sunderland at Selhurst Park on Monday night.
The 22-year-old scored 11 goals in 79 league appearances for the Black Cats before leaving the Stadium of Light to join the Eagles during the summer.
The former England under-21 international spent a total of four years at Sunderland and he admits that he is looking forward to taking on the team that gave him his first opportunity in the Premier League.
He said: “It’s the one team I’ve wanted to play against since I came to Palace. I’ll be seeing some friendly faces again, but once I’ve crossed the line it’s me against them and there’s no friends on a football pitch.”
Wickham has made just four league appearances for his new employers, as a calf injury has prevented him from starting a match for Alan Pardew’s side since the end of August.
Sunderland fans are expected to give the youngster a mixed reception during the match, but Wickham insists that won’t affect his performance.
He added: “The reaction from fans doesn’t bother me, it’s part and parcel of the game and you learn to ignore it. At Palace we’ve got a set of fans who back us through thick and thin. Selhurst Park is a horrible place to play if you’re an away player.”
A victory for Palace would inflict more misery on Sam Allardyce’s struggling side, who are currently four points adrift of safety in the league standings, although they did secure a 3-1 victory when the two sides last met in the capital 12 months ago.
The Black Cats are outsiders at 6.50 to repeat that victory this time around, whilst the hosts are available at 1.57 and a draw is 4.00.