Who is Gael Andonian and how did he play for Sunderland Under-23s last night?

Sunderland Under-23s handed a surprise start to Armenian international Gael Andonian against West Brom last night - but who is he?

Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 10:07 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 10:11 am
Sunderland Under-23s manager Elliott Dickman.

The 23-year-old centre-back, who has 23 caps for his country, has been on trial at the Stadium of Light for the past few weeks.

Andonian played the full 90 minutes for Elliott Dickman's side, helping the under-23s record a 2-1 victory over West Brom.Here's what we know about the player.

Where's he from?

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The 6 ft 1 centre-back came through the youth academy at Marseille.

He made his debut for the League 1 side in November 2014, after coming off the bench in a 2–1 victory over Lens.

But, he struggled to nail down a first-team place, leading to a loan spell at French side Dijon.

Andonian has spent the last six months on loan at Italian club Verona, and only left Marseille this summer.

Regarding his international career, the defender played two games for France's under-16 side, before switching his allegiances to Armenia.

How did he play last night?

Andonian was deployed in the heart of defence for the under-23s against West Brom, alongside Jack Bainbridge.

It was the latter who did most of the talking, which is understandable considering the familiarity with his team-mates.

Andonian didn't hold back, flying into a tackle with West Brom striker Callum Murton near the halfway line in the early exchanges.

But, the defender settled down and was a commanding figure in Sunderland's backline, consistently heading away crosses into the Black Cats' box.

What are the chances of Sunderland signing him?

It's hard to say considering Sunderland already have Glenn Loovens, Alim Ozturk, Tom Flanagan and Jack Baldwin who can play centre-back.

But, Andonian has been training well with the first team, and manager Jack Ross, who was in attendance last night, will have been impressed with what he saw.

After the game, under-23s manager Dickman said: "He trained with us yesterday (Sunday) and I believe he's been training a lot with the senior side during the week."

"It's a good opportunity for him to show the senior staff what he can do. It's been very limited what I've seen of him.

"I was impressed with how he trained yesterday, I thought he approached a group of strangers well.

"He gave his best, he tried his best and tonight I think the level of football that we're playing at, under-23s, I think he handled the game well.

"As far as the future, that's not my decision."