Sunderland midfielder Luke O’Nien has been quoted by the Sunderland Echo as defending on-loan teammate Joe Gelhardt with the Leeds United striker struggling to score regularly since joining the Championship side this term.
Following the record signing of Georgie Rutter in January, 20-year-old Gelhardt made the decision to go out on loan. He linked up with Jack Clarke at Sunderland, under Tony Mowbray. Sunderland had lost star striker Ross Stewart.
It has seen Gelhardt start up front for the Black Cats, and he has struggled since. Playing 10 times, the England U21 man has scored just one goal in 10 games – laying on two assists. Many have been critical of the on-loan Leeds ace.
Tony Mowbray and Stephen Elliott have both said that Gelhardt looks as though he is struggling for confidence. But O’Nien has leapt to the defence of his on-loan teammate – describing him as “brilliant”, and it is not just about goals.
“A lot more credit has got to go to Joffy, he’s brilliant especially the last three, four, five games. Strikers are judged on goals but he brings way more than that. He’s been brilliant. I watch him, when I play I watch him,” O’Nien said.
“His body position, the way he’s willing to receive it. Remember, he’s isolated. The goals will come. I know a few people give him stick saying he’s not scoring but they can come to me and argue that because I think he’s brilliant.”
Sunderland midfielder O’Nien defends on-loan Leeds striker Gelhardt
Gelhardt has shown over the last few years at Leeds that he is clearly an enormous talent. A player that can change games with his street-football style of play. But he needed the platform and the chance to score goals regularly.
He now has that at Sunderland and while O’Nien has defended Joffy, it has been a poor loan spell so far. Gelhardt needs to score goals if he is to show Leeds what he can do. He needs to be prolific in the eight remaining games.