With Stephane Sessegnon's future looking bleak after he was omitted from the squad for Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Crystal Palace after he was charged with drink driving, Wickham has hit form with perfect timing.
Di Canio heaped praise on his 20-year-old England Under-21 international after seeing him come off the bench to transform the Black Cats' Capital One Cup second round tie against MK Dons.
It was not just his contribution on the night - Wickham scored twice inside three minutes to erase a 2-1 deficit and establish a 3-2 lead - which impressed his manager, but a change in attitude in training and his display as a substitute at Southampton three days earlier which signalled a new phase in his career.
The former Ipswich frontman has started only eight Barclays Premier League games for the Black Cats since his B£8.1million switch to Wearside in June 2011, but his stock has risen dramatically with Di Canio to the point where that statistic could soon be improved.
Asked if Wickham had given him something to think about ahead of Saturday's trip to promoted Palace, the 45-year-old Italian said: "Yes, of course.
"When my player in the last 10 days changed his attitude and made me happy in the way he approached the training sessions, it was not an accident.
"In his performance at Southampton, he didn't do anything special, but for me it was special because he worked so hard and kept four or five balls that gave us a chance to break.
"And then the last time, you saw what happened. He was crucial - but that's because of what he had done in the training sessions the previous week.
"This is why now at the moment he has reduced to a minimum the gap between him and some players who until today have played regular football because of more pedigree, more experience or different characteristics.
"Now he will have his chance, probably."