Sunderland manager Lee Johnson has revealed that he expects Luke O’Nien to be available for selection this weekend after the midfielder recently suffered an injury scare.
After being brought on as a substitute in the club’s EFL Trophy clash with Lincoln City earlier this month, the 26-year-old limped off in the 81st minute.
Following the game, Johnson confirmed that O’Nien sustained a rib injury in this fixture and thus the midfielder needed to have an X-ray to reveal the severity of his issue.
A stand-out performer for Sunderland this season, O’Nien has started nine of the club’s 10 league games.
Currently thriving alongside Corry Evans in the heart of midfield, the former Wycombe Wanderers man will be determined to help the Black Cats push on in the third-tier in the coming weeks.
Set to face Gillingham on Saturday, Sunderland could potentially move into the automatic promotion places if they seal all three points in this fixture.
Making reference to O’Nien ahead of the club’s showdown with the Gills, Johnson has admitted that he believes the midfielder will be fit enough to feature at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
Speaking to Chronicle Live, the Sunderland boss said: “Luke is alright, I’d expect him to be fit and available to play.
“It was just bruising in the end, not a fracture, which is good.”
This is an encouraging update for Sunderland as they would have been fearing the worst when O’Nien picked up his injury earlier this month.
With Johnson suggesting that O’Nien could be in line to play for the Black Cats this weekend, it will be intriguing to see whether the midfielder is able to help the club deliver a response to their recent 4-0 defeat to Portsmouth in League One.
Currently averaging an impressive WhoScored match rating of 7.21 in the third-tier, O’Nien will be confident in his ability to deliver a goods against a Gillingham side who have only won one of their last five league games.
Providing that O’Nien is able to maintain his fitness as well as his form for the remainder of the 2021/22 campaign, he could potentially play a key role for Sunderland as the club look to secure a return to the Championship.