New Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson says he intends to exploit the versatility of Luke O’Nien, by playing him in a number of positions during his time at the Stadium of Light.
O’Nien was used largely as a right-back under Parkinson’s predecessor Jack Ross, although he was also employed further forward at times by the Scot.
It appears as though it will be a similar situation for the 24-year-old under Parkinson, who employed O’Nien in midfield in his first game as manager at Wycombe on Saturday, before starting him at right-back against Tranmere at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday, moving him further up the pitch in that game.
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Speaking after that win about O’Nien’s performance, Parkinson was quoted by The Sunderland Echo as saying: “He is just great anywhere. He got a goal and he has so much energy and desire.
“I watched a lot of the games before I came in and I said to him on the first day I can see why the supporters like you, he has a lot of heart, he has to keep that because that was some performance from him.”
Asked whether that means O’Nien will continue to alternate positions under Parkinson, the Sunderland boss responded: “Yeah, I think so because we haven’t got a massive squad.
“We only had 16 outfield players training on Monday. You do need versatile players. But he is happy to play anywhere and he is good enough to play anywhere.”
That win over Tranmere has lifted Sunderland to seventh in the League One standings, leaving them outside the play-off places only on goal difference.
Parkinson’s side are next in action on Saturday afternoon, when they travel to the New Meadow to face Shrewsbury Town.
I think this is a smart move from Parkinson.
Having a player such as O’Nien who can play in a variety of positions is always a useful thing to have in a squad – particularly one that is as small as Parkinson feels Sunderland’s is – for when injuries and suspensions take their toll.
You feel therefore that rotating O’Nien’s position every now and again is a sensible thing to do, since it keeps him sharp in all areas for whenever he might be called upon to step in for a run of games in a certain position.
Given his versatility increases his opportunities when it comes to playing time, you feel this is something that O’Nien ought to be reasonably happy with as well.