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Sunderland: Luke O’Nien has been Tony Mowbray’s real hero

Sunderland have enjoyed and endured a rollercoaster start to the 2022/23 campaign as they head into the break for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Black Cats ended their four-year spell in League One as they won promotion via the play-offs, beating Wycombe 2-0 in the final, last season.

Alex Neil led them to victory at Wembley but did not last long in the Championship as he decided to ditch the Stadium of Light to join rivals Stoke City at the end of August.

Kristjaan Speakman reacted to that by bringing in the experienced Tony Mowbray and the former Blackburn Rovers boss has been a steady pair of hands so far.

Sunderland are 15th in the table, but can go tenth by winning their game in hand, after 19 matches and have won as many games (seven) as they have lost.

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Sunderland striker Ross Stewart in action

Starting off easy... who was Sunderland's top scorer in 2021/22?

Prolific marksman Ross Stewart stole all of the headlines in the early part of the campaign as he plundered five goals and three assists from seven appearances in the division, averaging a SofaScore rating of 7.66.

The Scotland international took the Championship by storm but has not played a competitive game for the club since 31st of August due to an injury that he is set to return from after the break.

Stewart was the star man of the first seven matches but other players have been putting in consistently impressive performances throughout the entire campaign so far and the real hero for Mowbray has been utility man Luke O’Nien.

Have you been impressed by O'Nien this season?





The former Wycombe machine has been a standout for Sunderland for multiple reasons; including his versatility, consistency, and quality.

He has played in 18 of the club’s 20 Championship matches and started 16 times, which shows that he was a regular in the side for both Neil and Mowbray during the first section of the season.

In that time, O’Nien has played at centre-back, right-back, and holding midfield, something that shows the manager trusts him to play in a multitude of roles, with Sunderland switching between a back five and four.

The £5k-per-week gem, who was dubbed “awkward” to get past and a “revelation” by former boss Jack Ross, has also put in quality performances on the pitch.

O’Nien has averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.93 in the Championship whilst making 3.5 tackles and interceptions per game and winning 53% of his duels.

These statistics show that he has been a reliable option at the back as he has consistently put in solid displays and won the ball back for his side on a regular basis, whilst holding his own in physical battles with the opposition.

Therefore, he has been the real hero of the first part of the season for the Black Cats due to his impact on the pitch, his consistency, and his versatility for Mowbray.