Luke O'Nien has a firm message as he explains how Sunderland will move on from Wembley ahead of Accrington Stanley clash
Luke O’Nien says Sunderland’s Wembley memories need to be just that - as the Black Cats prepare to return to League One action.
Just three days on from their Papa John’s Trophy triumph over Tranmere Rovers, Sunderland head to the North West to face Accrington Stanley as they look to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to ten games.
And while Sunday was a euphoric day for squad and supporters alike, O’Nien says now is the not the time to reflect on the achievement – given the games keep on coming thick and fast.
“I think we're just into a normal week now; you do your homework on the other team, you're training,” he said.
"What's happened is great, but it's in the past now. Memories are great, but we have them for the future.
"Now, we've got a lot on our hands and there's a lot of games coming up, so the old cliche of taking them one at a time is the most important thing. We've got to be completely present in the moment and focusing on the game in front of us.
"We had a good training session on Monday and everyone is looking forward to the Accy game.”
The visit to the Wham Stadium kicks-off a crucial week for Sunderland, who will also face promotion-challenging Lincoln City as they look to maintain the momentum that has seen their automatic promotion hopes revived.
Lee Johnson’s side have won six of their last seven games and have seen the gap to the top two cut – while still holding a number of games in hand on teams above them.
But supporters will no doubt have fresh in their mind the woes of 2019 where, despite having games in hand at a similar stage of the season, Sunderland were unable to capitalise.
And with a hectic end to season scheduled – the Black Cats have only two free midweeks between now and the end of the campaign – there are no doubt fears in some quarters that the fixture congestion could see history repeat itself.
O’Nien, however, doesn’t share that belief. He feels that more games can only yield benefits for Sunderland.
“We do what we do to play games, so bring on some more and let's play some more football,” said the former Wycombe man.
"Since we were kids that's what we've dreamed of doing and we're lucky and very privileged to be doing that now. I think more games gives you more chance to build camaraderie, understanding, so I can only see it as a benefit.”
"It's an exciting one,” he continued.
"I think we're all enjoying the regular games and you're going to go to different stadiums, there's going to be different pitches and different personnel.
"It's our job to adapt to the game we're playing in, like we've got to adapt after Accy, but we're all enjoying it and we've built-up a good bit of momentum.
"But they're a good side so we've got to make sure we keep putting the performances in and the points will come.”