Kevin Phillips believes that Luke O’Nien could leave Sunderland next summer if the club fail to secure promotion.
The Black Cats are preparing for their fourth campaign in League One after falling short in the play-offs last term, losing to Lincoln City over two legs.
O’Nien ended speculation over his immediate future at the club after agreeing to sign a three-year contract extension at the Stadium Of Light, much to the delight of supporters.
The 26-year-old spoke to the club’s official website and discussed the temptation of moving to the Championship as interest built in the second tier, and according to Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips, it may be a sign that O’Nien has a plan if Sunderland’s promotion push doesn’t work out.
Speaking to Football Insider, Phillips said: “When a player comes out and says that, he’s saying if we don’t go up next season, I’m off.
“If he has another good season like he did last year, there will be interest. It won’t be heart over head next season if we don’t go up.
“Credit to the player, he will give his all next season and he is a good signing for Sunderland.
“Let’s just hope they can deliver for the player so he stays at the club beyond next summer.”
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It’s hard to argue with Kevin Phillips’ verdict on this one.
Luke O’Nien has been wonderful for Sunderland over recent seasons and his decision to extend his stay is going to be great news for Lee Johnson’s side.
However this season could be crucial given the level of interest that the versatile midfielder had during the final weeks of the season.
Fans will also be expectant going into next term and so for Sunderland there’s no doubt that this is going to be a big year.