Gary Rowell: Sunderland's recruitment has been poor for years but this player is bucking the trend

With Sunderland having a free weekend due to international call ups, the players can put their feet up and recharge their batteries before the inevitable backlog of fixtures to come.

Saturday, 16th November 2019, 4:00 pm

I don’t think anyone deserves that break more than Luke O’Nien.

At a time when there’s not too many positives at the club, he’s one. There’s something very likeable about this lad, he’s popular with the fans, not just because he gives his absolute maximum on the pitch, but also because he just looks like he loves being a Sunderland footballer and all that brings.

The fans can relate to that, pride in the shirt is everything and should never be underestimated, respecting the shirt remains respecting the club, the area and especially the fans, and Luke O’Nien gets that.

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Luke O'Nien.

He’s not the most technically gifted player I've ever seen, not the quickest or the strongest, but he’s becoming one of the first names I’d put on the team sheet and not just because he puts a shift in. He’s high energy with an eye for goal, he’s box-to-box when playing in midfield, but he can also do a job as a full back or a number ten.

Those sorts of players are a manager’s dream, ask him to do a job and he’ll do it uncomplaining, he puts the team before himself and that’s a low maintenance player that a manager can rely on and trust to always do the right thing.

I don’t want to make him into something he’s not, he’s a League One player after all, with all the weaknesses League One players have, but if Sunderland were to win promotion, I think he could make the step up and compete in the Championship.

Sunderland’s recruitment has been poor for years now, the bad signings have far outweighed the good ones, and that’s got to be one of the main reasons for the club finds itself in the third tier, but this signing will I think in time be viewed as a plus for the recruitment team.

Luke O’Nien probably knows he’ll never play for a bigger or better club than the one he’s at right now and he looks like he’s determined to make the most of every minute, and I for one wouldn’t mind if his stay on Wearside is a long one.

You just can’t have enough of his type in the dressing room.