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Sunderland: Luke O’Nien stole the show vs Fleetwood

If you were to field Sunderland star Luke O’Nien in goal, he’d probably do a job for you.

Of course, that seems a farfetched notion but for the former Wycombe man, it doesn’t seem to matter where you play him.

O’Nien has become an ever-reliable performer for the Black Cats and already this term, he has played in four different roles. He is a central midfielder by trade but at the Stadium of Light has traditionally been preferred either at right-back or further forward on the right-wing.

That being said, he has now made a name for himself at centre-back. For someone who stands at just 5 ft 8, you perhaps wouldn’t associate him being adept in that role.

Yet, in two successive games now O’Nien has kept a clean sheet in that position. He looked comfortable in a three-back during the win over Burton but his display in the 2-0 victory over Fleetwood on Tuesday evening was even more impressive.

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With Bailey Wright, Tom Flanagan and Jordan Willis all out, he arguably stole the show while playing alongside Dion Sanderson in a four-man defence.

O’Nien has always been strong in the tackle but he showed other qualities this week, standing out and reigning supreme in the air.

Aiden O’Brien and Max Power may have scored the goals but it was arguably O’Nien who laid the platform. The 26-year-old was excellent at the back and swept up well in a convincing defensive outing.

In total, the defender won six aerial duels, a tally that bettered every single player on the field of play. It also bettered his season average of three aerial battles won per match.

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Who is the player?

It was a dominating performance, one that saw O’Nien make six clearances in a no-nonsense display. Once again, that was the highest number of anyone to take the field of play on Tuesday evening.

The midfielder has already spent a period out with a dislocated shoulder but the team have clearly been better since his return to the side. He’s only lost one league game following his layoff.

Clearly, he is key to whether Lee Johnson’s men achieve promotion or not. O’Nien typifies both professionalism and versatility; he is a pleasure to have in the squad and acts as an example to others.

AND in other news, Drop him: £2.4k-p/w Sunderland liability who lost possession 23x let Johnson down…

Article title: Sunderland: Luke O’Nien stole the show vs Fleetwood

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