Sunderland midfielder opens up on injury setback and recent challenges after Fleetwood win

After three and a half months of rehab and moments of doubt, Luke O’Nien says his goal against Fleetwood was worth the wait.

Thursday, 10th March 2022, 11:08 am
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2022, 11:09 am
Luke O’Nien celebrates his goal against Fleetwood. Picture by FRANK REID
Luke O’Nien celebrates his goal against Fleetwood. Picture by FRANK REID

The 27-year-old had been sidelined since November following surgery on his shoulder, watching from afar as Sunderland went top of the table at the turn of the year, before the team’s form plummeted.

But with nine league games remaining the midfielder is back and raring to go again, after making an immediate impact off the bench.

"You do all your rehab and do all your work for moments like this,” said O’Nien after his goal in the 3-1 win over Fleetwood.

“I couldn’t have really written it too much better on a personal note for the team as well.

“I have been sidelined for quite a while and seen the boys putting their bodies on the line so it was finally nice just to contribute and help at the right time.”

O’Nien opened up about his struggles on social media but has thanked the people around him, including his partner Georgia and daughter Jasmine, who have helped him get back.

“It’s been difficult and I think you learn a lot,” reflected O’Nien.

“I have real good people around me. I have a performance coach that I see away from football, his name is Rob Blackburn and he has been very key.

“My partner has put up with me during some difficult times because you do what you do to go out there and when you can’t it’s difficult and challenging and you have to rethink the goals.

“I can only thank the people around me in terms of my partner, the little one has been my pre-season, chasing her around the house.

“I think it’s harder when you are younger and haven’t been through it as many times.

“I’m actually getting old now, we did old vs young in training and I was in the old team.

“I think it’s harder in your earlier years and you haven’t been through it and you're like ‘am I going to get through it.’ You always question it a little bit.

“You still have moments when you question things and I think that’s normal, that’s why I put the post on social media that people have talked about and I think it’s important to show that side.

“It’s ok to have a struggle now and again, it’s everyday life, it’s normal and people across the world have that.”

O’Nien has been recovering alongside Sunderland defender Jordan Willis, who suffered a serious knee injury in February last year.

“Willis has been brilliant for me on a personal note and I can say that on behalf of the team as well,” O’Nien added.

“He’s been like a mentor and a friend to me, just kind of guiding me because he’s been through this process a lot longer than I have.

“He is still a vital part of the team giving advice from the sides positional wise as well. He’s a great guy and I’m looking forward to his return.

“He came up to me and said he was delighted when I scored.”

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