Wickham, an £8.1million Steve Bruce signing, has found the going tough on Wearside after bursting on to the scene as a precocious teenager at Ipswich Town, but he chose his moment to impress his current manager.
Di Canio said: "He turned the game. He has improved a lot in the last few weeks, I have seen a very good improvement, not because he scored two goals tonight, but his body language and desire.
"A few days ago, we had a chat for 45 minutes together to help him because he is still only young. He is a big fella, but still young, so the fact that he wanted to hear some words help him and give him more confidence.
"This is why you saw him today for 40 minutes have the quality of a player for a Premier League club."
For the big stories and the banter follow us on Twitter: @tribalfootball