Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips has insisted that he was shocked that the Black Cats were willing to sanction a loan departure for Aiden O’Brien late on in the window before a move ultimately fell through.
It was reported that Doncaster Rovers had managed to agree a deal with Sunderland that would have seen O’Brien make the switch to the Keepmoat Stadium on a loan deal before the window came to a close.
However, it is believed that an error in the paperwork submitted by Sunderland caused a delay in the deal getting completed. While it also thought that time ran out by the time the correct papers had been organised to finalise the move.
That means that O’Brien, who has managed to make three appearances for the Black Cats in League One so far this term and also scored a hat-trick in their League Cup win against Blackpool, will remain with Lee Johnson’s side until at least the winter window.
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Speaking to Football Insider, Phillips suggested that he was shocked to see Sunderland be willing to allow O’Brien to move to Doncaster on loan. While he also believes that there is a chance that the 27-year-old will be made available again in the January window.
“I am surprised to hear that, to be honest.
“This season you want people in your squad who know where the back of the net is.
“There will be times where Ross Stewart is suspended or injured this season and in O’Brien you have a player who knows League One.
“He scored a great hat-trick in the cup and he knows where the back of the net is. That’s why I’m surprised they would consider allowing him to leave on loan. He has that experience.
“Luckily it has not happened but perhaps there will be some movement in January. We will have to watch this space.”
On the face of it, O’Brien is down the pecking order at Sunderland this season with Ross Stewart clearly being viewed as their main centre-forward by Johnson.
However, Sunderland had already agreed to allow Will Grigg to leave on loan for Rotherham United so they would have left themselves short on cover in the final third had they allowed O’Brien to leave the Stadium of Light.
O’Brien is a player that has shown that he has something to offer for the Black Cats and when at his best he can make a difference in the final third as he showed in the cup win at Blackpool.
Having said that though, O’Brien often does not have the end product that you would want or need upfront in a side that have ambitions to really challenge for promotion from League One.
You can therefore see Sunderland potentially being willing to lose him again in January. However, that should be dependent on them first bringing another forward through the door to challenge Stewart.