There have been a number of positives from Lee Johnson’s time in charge of Sunderland.
The Mackems are consistent on the road, while a revival for Aiden McGeady was something that not many saw coming. Add his assists and Charlie Wyke’s goals together and you have a team that’s become a force to be reckoned with.
For all the positives, there has been one major negative for Johnson to contend with; injuries.
Denver Hume has been out since December while Bailey Wright, Conor McLaughlin, Tom Flanagan and Jordan Willis are all missing through injury.
Josh Scowen and Luke O’Nien were also absent for a part of the manager’s first few months in the hot seat.
Lynden Gooch sat out for a period too but unfortunately, he could be set for more time on the treatment table following Sunderland’s 1-0 win over Swindon. He was withdrawn shortly after the hour mark with a calf problem but Johnson is hoping he won’t be away for too long.
That’s good news considering his impact on proceedings. Gooch was one of the Black Cats’ biggest goal threats, dribbling past an opponent on three occasions. As good as he was on Tuesday, if he’s now missing, Johnson must turn to one player.
The player in question happens to be Chris Maguire. Only a few weeks ago Football FanCast detailed how he’d been one of the biggest losers from Johnson’s appointment.
However, he’s now playing himself into form and if Gooch is out, Johnson could do far worse than turn to the Scot.
Maguire has been excellent in his last three outings, making vibrant cameos from the substitute’s bench. He assisted a goal against Fleetwood before scoring an eye-catching volley to rescue a point last weekend in the draw with Crewe.
The attacker was again on form when he was introduced on Tuesday. Maguire took to the field and provided the assist for the game’s solitary goal. It was another pivotal moment from a player who is becoming increasingly valuable to the manager.
Last season, Maguire responded in emphatic fashion to individual setbacks. He left Phil Parkinson enraged after being snapped at McDonald’s with Aiden McGeady following a defeat. Following that moment, he went on a run where he scored four goals and registered three assists in his next six outings.
Such controversy hasn’t followed the 32-year-old this term but once again, he’s refused to spit his dummy out. Johnson has challenged the £4.4k-per-week earner to respond to his lack of game time and over the last few weeks, he’s done just that, he’s been excellent.
With Gooch now possibly missing, Maguire is the man to turn to. He deserves a shot at starting a few games.