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Lee Johnson reveals his Luke O’Nien dilemma at Sunderland

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Manager Lee Johnson has admitted he still doesn’t know what position is best to play Luke O’Nien in for Sunderland.

O’Nien’s versatility has been a key asset to Sunderland recently, with the 26-year-old featuring at wing-back, centre midfield, and more recently, centre back – where he produced some brilliant performances to help the Black Cats cope with several injuries – since the start of this season.

Now however, with the likes of Bailey Wright soon set to be available to play in the centre of defence again, it seems Johnson is left with a challenge of deciding where best to use O’Nien in the future.

Giving his assessment of where O’Nien’s best position on the pitch might be, Johnson told The Sunderland Echo: “It’s a really difficult question and I feel like I’m back to square one if I’m honest. I just like him, to be honest. He’s a good lad, honest as the day is long, mad as a box of frogs but in a nice way.

“He causes us a load of problems but in the best way possible because he never wants to come off the training ground and we’re trying to get him to rest up. I’d much rather that than the other way round.

“It’s the energy, commitment and that all-action style that makes him a valid option for any of those positions really, whether it be right-back, central midfield or left sided centre-half.”

Discussing the influence that the likes of O’Nien and the similarly versatile Lynden Gooch have on the Sunderland squad, Johnson went on to add: “It’s important to have players like him and Goochy in your squad, who can move around and don’t grumble, it’s a real positive because moving forward it might allow you to reduce your squad by one.

“That’s what you want because it can help build that tight-knit squad where everyone feels very close to the first team.”

Can you get at least 15/20 on this Sunderland midfielders quiz?

1 of 20

In what year did Max Power first join Sunderland on loan from Wigan?

So far this season, O’Nien has made 30 league appearances for Sunderland, scoring twice.
As things stand, there are just a few months remaining on O’Nien’s contract at Sunderland, meaning he could be a free agent come the end of this season.
The Verdict
I don’t think there can be any doubt that this dilemma over O’Nien’s best position is a good one for Johnson to have.
Any manager would surely rather have more options than necessary in one particular position, than being left scraping the barrel because they do not have enough.
O’Nien’s versatility certainly allows Sunderland to enjoy that security, especially considering he seems to impress no matter what position he plays in.
Indeed, with that in mind, you feel Sunderland must be looking to get his contract situation sorted as quickly as possible, as they are not going to want to lose an asset as important as him this summer.

UCLan Sports Journalism graduate, been writing for Football League World since March 2019. I've previously worked for the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Opta, among others.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Lee Johnson reveals his Luke O’Nien dilemma at Sunderland

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