Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips believes that the Black Cats could offload Aiden O’Brien in January, even though the decision would surprise him.
The Lowdown: O’Brien tipped for Sunderland exit
The 27-year-old has been a solid servant for the club, scoring 10 times in 45 appearances since signing from Millwall last year.
Despite his relatively short and fruitful time at the Stadium of Light, O’Brien was linked with leaving Sunderland on loan in the summer transfer window, with a mooted deadline day move to Doncaster Rovers ultimately falling through.
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The Latest: Phillips makes January prediction
Speaking to Football Insider, Phillips admitted his surprise that O’Brien is unwanted by Lee Johnson, but suggested that the Irishman could now leave in January instead. He said:
The Verdict: Strange call by Black Cats?
Phillips is correct in his assessment, with O’Brien a player who can offer quality and squad depth to Sunderland as they look to return to the Championship after a four-year exile.
Keeping O’Brien for the rest of the season and selling him when his contract expires next summer makes more sense, allowing the Black Cats to get one more year out of him – unless they decide to extend his deal should he continue to impress when given the chance.
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