Former Sunderland forward Kevin Phillips has suggested that Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady could struggle to reclaim a place in the club’s starting eleven due to the form that Lee Johnson’s side have illustrated during their absence.
O’Nien is currently being forced to watch on from the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a shoulder issue whilst McGeady hasn’t featured for the Black Cats since their 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury Town in November.
Having sustained ligament damage in his knee during this particular clash, the winger is not expected to make his return to action until February.
Despite the fact that they have been unable to call upon the services of O’Nien and McGeady for their last seven league fixtures, Sunderland have managed to accumulate an impressive total of 17 points in this period.
As a result of their upturn in form, the Black Cats have managed to climb up to second in the League One standings.
Making reference to the club’s recent resurgence, Phillips has admitted that O’Nien and McGeady may find it difficult to force their way back into Sunderland’s side when they are fit enough to feature.
Speaking to Football Insider, Phillips said: “When it happens it will be a good dilemma for Lee to have.
“If Sunderland are still playing the way they are, McGeady and O’Nien will struggle to get into the starting XI.
“Imagine having two of the best players in the league sitting on the bench.
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“It’d be amazing.
“Let’s hope that when the injured players come back it spurs the ones that are starting to perform even better.”
This is a relatively surprising claim by Phillips as although Sunderland are currently thriving in the absence of O’Nien and McGeady, it would be a shock if this duo do not immediately return to the club’s starting eleven when they recover from their respective injury issues.
Meanwhile, McGeady has managed to provide seven direct goal contributions in 14 appearances at this level this season and will be confident in his ability to add to this particular tally.
Providing that O’Nien and McGeady are both able to maintain their consistency in the third-tier when they make their return to action, they could help Sunderland finally secure a return to the Championship later this year.