Midfielder has this message for Sunderland squad after signing new deal
Luke O’Nien says the Sunderland squad must use the pain of missing out on promotion last season as the ‘fuel’ to get over the line this campaign.
O’Nien signed a new three-year contract on Monday, a process which was delayed due to the versatile midfielder being forced to isolate.
The 26-year-old has been identified as a close contact, but joined his team-mates this week to begin his preparations for the new campaign.
And the fans favourite is now raring to go.
Sunderland were beaten in the League One play-offs by Lincoln City and face a fourth season in the third tier.
"We use the past and past results as fuel to go again,” reflected O’Nien.
"Having the fans back in for that game against Lincoln was something that kept playing back in my head and one of the reasons why I wanted to come back here was to play in front of that again.
"I talked to the gaffer in the off-season and he's one of the big reasons I stayed.
"His plans for the club and what he had for me and how he wanted to develop me, really had me excited and I'm looking forward to cracking on."
O’Nien has spent the past three years on Wearside and turned down interest from the Championship to sign a new deal and extend his stay.
"I've loved it," he added.
"I've developed a lot, first and foremost as a human but also as a player.
"A lot has happened to me in the North-East.
"From settling in to playing in front of 30,000 fans - Wembley three times, fighting week in, week out for promotion and it's an incredible place to play football and to live and I'm very grateful for the fans for trusting me and supporting me and my family at the time of being here.
"It's something I wanted to be a part of for a lot longer. I'm delighted to be here and I'm ready to give more to the club and lets go again."
Having missed the first week of pre-season training O’Nien said it felt a ‘little bit like first day at school’ when he returned to the Academy of Light but is ready to play his part.
He added: “Some of the lads came up to me, shaking my hand and asked me what my name was - pretending they don't know me so I'm looking forward to it.
"I've been doing a few home workouts with my partner and the little one. I'm looking forward to get going and I'm just excited."
Sunderland returned to pre-season training last week and drew 2-2 with Spennymoor Town last weekend. Their next friendly is away to York City on July 21.
Lee Johnson is looking to revamp his Sunderland options after the departures of several senior players including Grant Leadbitter, Josh Scowen and Max Power.
Charlie Wyke this week signed for Wigan Athletic.
Denver Hume is yet to commit to a new contract at Sunderland, with talks ongoing.