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Roker Roundup: Could SAFC fan favourite Luke O’Nien have an international future with Singapore?

Could Luke O’Nien have a future in international football with the Singapore national team? And, the former manager of a Sunderland trialist has given him glowing praise.

Roker Roundup 20/21
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International future for O’Nien?

Luke O’Nien has been in excellent form this season, regardless of which position he has played in and that form may result in international recognition in the future.

The Football Association of Singapore [FAS] have launched an initiative called Unleash The Roar recently, with the aim of the Singapore national team qualifying for the 2034 World Cup.

The FAS deputy president has been speaking about the initiative with The New Paper and, with the aim of improving standards, raised the possibility of O’Nien and Cardiff City’s Perry Ng possibly being called up:

That’s also an option, but of course, our citizenship rules are a little more constraining, because we don’t allow dual citizenship...

We will look at all possible foreign players that have affiliation to Singapore... They don’t have to play in the SPL [Singapore Premier League], but they can play for the national team.

O’Nien qualifies for Singapore through a grandparent but, as it stands, British nationals cannot play for Singapore unless they obtain a Singaporean passport and further complicating matters, Singapore citizens cannot hold dual nationality.

Thanks to the initiative, it is hoped the FAS may have scope to maneuver and allow them to overcome the obstacle of potential call-ups needing to fulfil residency requirements to achieve citizenship:

For that part, it’s within our control under Goal 2034, we’ll look at the approach. Of course, we work with the laws governing our country, but so long as basically it’s left to some subjectivity, we can obviously push it.

Former Singapore international R. Sasikumar told The New Paper that it is vitally important that Singapore has to scout bigger leagues for potential players:

Like how Malaysia, the Philippines have been doing it, we should be looking at kids with Singaporean heritage.

Take Luke O’Nien and Perry Ng, these are two that we know. There are many like them around the world as Singapore is a cosmopolitan country, with many interracial marriages.

So our scouting has got to step it up, I would rather have those kind of players... playing in bigger leagues. We are guaranteed better quality than trying to take those people who come and play in our league.

Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy - Final 2021 - Wembley Stadium Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Trialist’s former manager on gifted player

Sunderland took Gateshead midfielder Danny Greenfield on trial last week, with the 20-year-old impressing during the under-23s 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday afternoon.

Greenfield had a spell on loan at Matlock Town earlier in the season and their manager Paul Phillips told the Matlock Mercury the gifted midfielder has shown why he wanted to make that loan spell a permanent one:

It’s great for the lad, we all know how gifted he is, I don’t know how it went but everyone here wishes him well.

We’d have loved to have made his move here a permanent one and it’s plain to see why we wanted to do that and how well he’s done since.

It goes to show what can happen for young players who have come out of the full time game, there’s a way back for them and we’ll have played a key role in that. Players can come here and if they work hard there’s another opportunity for them.

I think that also reflects well on us a club.

Danny Greenfield

Cambridge United CEO still keen for salary cap

Although clubs in both League One and Two voted for the salary cap last year, it was withdrawn after the PFA successfully claimed against it to an independent arbitration panel.

While he believes the salary cap that was overturned, with a set number deciding how much all clubs in the division can operate under, was the most sensible option, Cambridge United CEO Ian Mather told Cambridge News that if that is not viable, then taking into account the size of the club through gate receipts is the next best option:

I think there could be some system along the lines of a salary cap, but the cap being linked to the genuine income that a club can generate, possibly to gate receipts.

I think there is a fair argument, call it the Accrington Stanley versus Sunderland argument, where Sunderland have an average gate of 20,000, and Accrington Stanley have two or three thousand.

They’re in the same league, but under the salary cap, Sunderland can only pay as much as Accrington Stanley.

I think that would be one way of adjusting the cap to perhaps deal with some concerns over the cap that was imposed last year. I think it needs to be something that is clear and cannot be easily manipulated.

I think the absolute number was the best way, even with the problem that I’ve talked about of clubs with different size of gates. If we can’t have that, then I think something along those lines is probably the next best.

What you need is a measure of income which can be clearly identified. Income from gate receipts is something that is straightforward to calculate, and is a measure of the size of the club.

Whatever the EFL decides, Mather hopes a decision is made quickly so clubs know where they stand ahead of next season:

The EFL have taken it away and are considering alternatives. We need to see what they come up with.

It is understood that by the EFL and clubs certainly in League Two, in meetings I’ve been in, that something needs to be done quickly, because we’re going to be moving forward into the summer where there will be salary negotiations with players, and we need to know what the rules are.

I would hope well in advance of the summer, because contracts come to an end on June 30, but we need clarity well ahead of that date, because conversations at some clubs will be happening sooner than that.

Ian Mather