Luke O’Nien has insisted that any players at Sunderland who are facing uncertainty over their long-term futures will be putting that to one side to concentrate on the play-offs.
O’Nien is one of the Sunderland players whose existing deal with the club is set to expire in the summer. Having been one of the Black Cats’ standout performers throughout the campaign in League One this term they will surely not be wanting to allow him to leave on a free transfer. Lee Johnson will be aware of how vital his versatility is to his side.
The Black Cats are aiming to secure promotion back to the Championship through the play-offs starting with their semi-final against Lincoln City.
Sunderland have already suffered heartache in the play-offs since they dropped down to the third tier, losing the final to Charlton Athletic in the 2018/19 season. O’Nien was part of that side that day and he will be hoping to put things right now.
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Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, O’Nien insisted that himself and the rest of the squad will be putting their long-term futures to one side as they concentrate their full efforts towards helping the Black Cats get through the play-offs and get into the Championship.
He said: “Any player, whether you’ve got five days, five years, five minutes left on your contract, you give your all for the club.
“That’s the most important thing. Whatever the length of your contract, you’ve got to play for that shirt. We’ve all got contracts until the end of the season and until they run out, we’ve got to give our all for the club.
“The contracts don’t matter. We’ve got to give it everything to win promotion. We all play football to win.”
This is exactly the sort of attitude that Sunderland fans will have been wanting to see ahead of the play-off semi-finals against Lincoln. O’Nien is a player that there would have been little doubts over given he only ever delivers 100% effort on the field every time he takes to the field. That would always be the same whatever his contract situation was.
He is a player that the Black Cats must surely do all they can to try and keep hold of beyond the end of his existing deal. The 26-year-old has been one of the best signings the club have made since they dropped out of the Championship and his versatility has enabled him to help them cope with injuries in different areas wherever he is asked to play he does a job.
O’Nien’s performances could well help to determine whether the Black Cats can beat Lincoln and then get past either Oxford United or Blackpool at Wembley. With him in the squad and fully focused on the next few games, there is a real chance Sunderland can go on and win the play-offs this time around.