Luke O'Nien explains Sunderland's reaction after tough Stoke defeat and what he's expecting at Norwich City
Luke O’Nien hopes Sunderland can learn from last weekend’s 5-1 defeat by Stoke as they look for a reaction away at Norwich.
Tony Mowbray’s side conceded four times in a dismal second half against The Potters, managed by former boss Alex Neil, as they suffered their heaviest defeat of the season.
The result means Sunderland have taken just one point from their last four games, yet O’Nien hopes the team can bounce back – just like last season when the side were thumped 6-0 at Bolton before winning promotion from League One.
"It was disappointing and tough for us to take but we've watched it back,” O’Nien told the club’s website when reflecting on the Stoke game. “We're working hard this week, we're learning from it, we're growing as a team and making sure we come back a better team.
"We had some big losses last year and we turned them into positives, we learnt from them and went on a good run. It’s important we learn from last year.
"We've got a really good group, we're still a very good team. We got it wrong but now it's important we build on what we've done well this season, learn from the other day and put in a better performance."
Recent results have seen Sunderland slip to 11th in the table, six points off the play-off places with 11 games remaining. But despite the side’s disappointing run, it’s a position O’Nien would probably have taken at the start of the campaign.
"If someone had said we'll be close to the play-offs in our debut season at this stage, we'd have been very excited,” he added.
"There's disappointment after the last few games but, putting things in perspective, we're still in a good place.
"If you stop and pause where we were last year, it's crazy to think where we are now. I'm really impressed with a lot of the players. Players like Dan Neil, who has stepped up a league, is one of the first names on the team sheet and is delivering week in, week out. If you look at the boys who've come from abroad, they've moved away from home, it's very difficult for them, they're learning the language and working hard.
"We now need to finish the season strong, maybe we can aim for as strong as last year, you have to aim high. We have a good run of games coming up and every game we go into aiming to win."
Next up for Sunderland is a trip to Norwich, who occupy the final play-off position.
David Wagner’s side have taken 10 points from their last five games, yet O’Nien is taking confidence from August’s reverse fixture when Sunderland were unfortunate to lose 1-0.
"There's no doubt we'll be up for it,” said O’Nien. “I remember playing them very clearly at home. It was a really good game, we set up really well.
"We know what quality they possess but we'll have a game plan, we'll work extra hard and we're giving ourselves the best chance by preparing as well as we can. We have the added fuel of feeling we dropped points at home against them when we deserved, in my opinion, the three points."