Wickham has been named in Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 squad for the upcoming European Championships in Israel.
However, Di Canio revealed motivating the 20-year old is sometimes very difficult, despite his obvious talent.
"Maybe, with this guy, I have to slap his face a little bit," he said.
"I'm talking about motivating him in a genuine way because he has so much potential.
"But sometimes he comes in and he seems to be looking around saying, 'Where am I?' I want to say, 'You are on the football pitch, with the grass'."