Sunderland’s Luke O’Nien is the type of player any team would want in their squad. Versatile with an excellent work ethic, he’s the player who will give his all in whatever position he is asked to play in. Since joining the Black Cats in 2018, O’Nien, a central midfielder by trade, has played in several positions. Sometimes out of necessity, sometimes, purely because he just wanted to play.
Having played the majority of his career in defence, at either right-back or in the middle, the former Wycombe Wanderers man, who committed his future to Sunderland during the summer when he could have easily left deserves his chance in his favoured midfield role.
Sunderland’s Luke O’Nien Deserves Midfield Chance
Summer Contract Talks Successful
Due to Sunderland entering the play-off lottery last season, several players were reluctant to commit themselves to another season in League One should Sunderland be unsuccessful. However, unsuccessful they were and some players left the club including top scorer Charlie Wyke who eventually signed for Wigan Athletic, in League One.
Two important fan favourites decided to stay and help the club achieve their aim and hopefully win promotion this season. Aiden McGeady was one and the other, despite interest from clubs in a higher division, was Sunderland’s Mr Versatile Luke O’Nien.
Speaking earlier this summer, head coach Lee Johnson said this about his all-action player: “We are all delighted that Luke has re-signed for the club.
“He is a great character around the place and he’s perfect for the type of culture that we want to create, as well as being a very versatile and quality player – and one we hope can help us strive for the next level.”
A Big Decision Regarding His Future
Luke O’Nien made a big decision regarding his future this summer. He could have left Wearside and now be playing in the Championship. However, he decided to stay loyal to the fans and the area. He said: “I’m delighted to sign a new contract with Sunderland.
“I’d like to thank Lee Johnson and Kristjaan Speakman, and the owner and the staff, for putting their trust in me and enabling me to continue to play for this great club.
“Hearing their plans for the club and how they want to develop me personally was incredibly exciting and I can’t wait to get going again.”
He continued his reasoning when speaking the Sunderland Echo: “I met with a with few managers which I’m grateful to them for and I wish them the best for next season, but while my head said Championship I think my heart wanted to continue playing for this great club.
“I’ve loved my time here, I’ve developed both as a human and as a player. It’s an incredible place to live and play football, and I’m very grateful to the fans for trusting me and supporting me and my family in the time I’ve been here.”
Luke O’Nien – A Natural Midfielder and Finisher
Luke O’Nien is a natural midfielder. His skills in this area prompted Sunderland to sign him. However, with competition at the time high, O’Nien, who just wanted to play, was put into the team at right-back due to various injuries. He excelled in the role and stayed there until last season when an injury crisis saw him switch to a central defensive role. Although the position was unnatural, he let no one down as the club reached the play-offs.
Now, with Lee Johnson’s defence, a little less injury-hit and the possibility of reinforcements arriving, O’Nien enjoyed pre-season and a first game of the new League One season in his favoured central midfield position.
It may take the fan favourite a few games to get back into the habit in midfield, but he has all the tools to succeed in that position at the Stadium of Light. Former manager Jack Ross admitted that O’Nien was one of the best finishers at the club during their time together. If O’Nien can contribute goals to this season along with his passion and commitment, Sunderland, along with the other talent they have, may have their best chance of promotion since they arrived in League One.