By Kevin Phillips

19th Feb, 2021 | 3:00pm

Phillips: Every team needs a player like Sunderland star O'Nien

The uncomplaining Luke O’Nien is a credit to Sunderland and he looks to have recaptured his form at exactly the right moment. 

That is according to Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after the Black Cats’ penalty shootout victory over Lincoln City on Wednesday.

O’Nien started the match at centre-back, completed 94% of his passes (Wyscout) and scored in the shootout as Lee Johnson’s side reached the final of the EFL Trophy for the second time in three years.

It is not the first time the 26-year-old, a natural midfielder, has been asked to perform a makeshift role.

He has played at centre-back, right-wing-back, left-wing-back, left-wing, right-wing, centre-midfield, attacking-midfield and centre-forward during his Sunderland career.

Phillips claims that O’Nien is an unsung hero and that any team in League One would be lucky to have a player of his versatility and temperament.

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He told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs: “Every team needs a player like Luke.

“He’s industrious, he gets up and down, he gets his head down and he just gets on with it, he can play in various positions.

“Certainly in this league, he’s very good. He’s gone off the boil a little bit but that happens.

“It’s good to see him come back into form at the right time in terms of there being two-and-a-half months left of the season.

“Sunderland really need to push now they’ve dropped out of that top-six. They can’t afford many slip-ups now and for Luke to come back into his own is great.

“They got to the final, they got a good result last week. Can they kick on now and have a real good run? It’s good to see McGeady, O’Nien and the like are all coming back into form. That will be pleasing for the manager.”


It has been a positive fortnight for Sunderland who beat Doncaster Rovers 4-1 on Saturday before their takeover by Kyle Louis-Dreyfus was confirmed on Thursday.

Louis-Dreyfus, 23, becomes the youngest owner in English football as a result and could win a trophy within a month when Sunderland face Tranmere Rovers in the EFL Trophy final on 14 March.

In other news, a top pundit says he expects on-loan Sunderland man Jordan Jones to be the subject of a bidding war in the summer.