The Northern Echo has reported that Sunderland have edged themselves closer to the services of Leeds United goalkeeper, Andy Lonergan. The 34-year-old’s contract with the Whites only run until the end of the current campaign and the Black Cats have supposedly offered him an 18-month deal. Lonergan’s return to Elland Road last summer has seen him spend more minutes on the benches than on the pitch. Felix Wiedwald is the number one choice under Thomas Christiansen and is likely to continue his duties in between the sticks on a regular basis.
Born in Preston, Lonergan grew up supporting his hometown club, Preston North End. He went on to make 228 appearances for the Lillywhites in 11 long years. His talents earned him a move to the EFL Championship with Leeds United in the summer of 2011. But after the arrival of Paddy Kenny, his spot as the first choice was lost and the 34-year-old was again traded away to Bolton Wanderers.
Lonergan’s dilemma to choose either England or Republic of Ireland might have cost him a few international caps. He has appeared just once for the Republic of Ireland U16 side and a meagre 10 times for the England U20. Playing at a division lower than the Premier League might not be the ideal climate to make your case for international selection but it is still an opportunity to compete against quality opposition.
At 34, a goalkeeper is supposed to be enjoying the peak of his footballing career and not rot on the sidelines as a secondary option. Every player does not have the option of escaping the conundrum but Lonergan has found one in Sunderland.
The Black Cats lost again last night, 3 goals to 1 against relegation rivals, Birmingham City and saw themselves drop back to the bottom three. They need all the help they can get and obtaining the signature of an eager and quality veteran will only give them the all-important boost for the final stretch of the season.
Majority of Chris Coleman’s January targets failed to materialise and the club still needs a striker to fill up the void left by Lewis Grabban. He has been tasked with saving the side from a second consecutive relegation and the prospect of doing so looks bleak. With no quality offensive threat, they might not be able to box out wins in the later stages of the campaign. However, Lonergan’s leadership qualities will at least give oppositions a fight instead of coming away with easy wins.
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