Luke O’Nien explains Sunderland changes after departures of senior players in recent transfer windows

Luke O’Nien discusses the dynamic of Sunderland's dressing room following the departures of experienced players in recent transfer windows.
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Luke O’Nien admits some of Sunderland’s younger players may have to learn to lead a bit quicker following the departures of more senior teammates in recent transfer windows.

The Black Cats have the youngest squad in the Championship this season with an average of just 22.4. That is after Sunderland allowed experienced players such as Danny Batth, Lynden Gooch and Alex Pritchard to leave over the last two transfer windows, bringing in players with limited Championship experience.

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When asked about how the dynamic has changed in Sunderland’s dressing room, O’Nien told the Echo: “I think each year when players have left there is always an evolution in a changing room. I think that always brings more responsibility on others, and others have got to learn to lead quicker.

“I think this year we have leaders that might take a year or two probably because they are quite young, they might have to work a little bit quicker because there are less senior heads.

“It is something we need to work on. We need more leaders to come forward and they are. It’s not an easy thing to do. Because of the young talent we have and they do start to become leaders, then we are going to have a hell of a group. We just need to keep learning and learn really fast.”

After ending a seven-match winless run against Cardiff on Friday, Sunderland’s young team was thumped 5-1 by Blackburn just three days later, leaving them 13th in the Championship. Still, O’Nien, 29, doesn’t believe the squad’s ages can be used as an excuse.

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“The group has had some really good performances, we had a young group last year and we achieved great things,” he explained. “I think it’s quite easy to say when we lose a game ‘we’ve got a young group.’ When we win it’s great because we are doing it with a young group.

“I think it’s really easy to point fingers, it’s this, it’s that. For myself being one of the oldest players it doesn’t matter. We were man for man not good enough (against Blackburn), every single one of us wasn't. Being a young group it’s easy to throw that out there, but it was far more than just being a young group.”

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