Like many of Sunderland’s players, Lynden Gooch has spent a fair time on the treatment table since Lee Johnson took over the reins as Mackems boss.
The attacking midfielder was injured more or less when he first walked through the door and unfortunately, following the club’s 1-0 win over Swindon he could be out again.
The American was withdrawn shortly after the hour mark with a calf problem. Johnson hopes the problem won’t be a long one, because judging by his display before being substituted; he was one of Sunderland’s main threats.
Gooch hasn’t produced his best form since Johnson walked through the door. The 25-year-old has scored just once since October for instance.
That being said, he was back to his effervescent best on Tuesday evening. His performance didn’t produce a goal or assist but he was a vibrant ball of energy.
He started the game at wing-back but after being moved further forward to give the team added impetus in the second period, stood out above many of Sunderland’s other attackers.
Gooch was a constant thorn in the opposition’s defence, proving successful with a total of three dribbles. That tally happened to be the best of anyone in red and white on Tuesday evening. Not only that, but Gooch’s record bettered his season average of 1.3 dribbles per game.
It was a dynamic performance from the attacker who in the words of reporter James Hunter, was Sunderland’s “biggest goal threat.”
What typified Gooch’s performance was his aggressive nature. He lost just one of his six duels – winning a percentage of 83.3%. Those types of qualities have been eye-catching under Johnson and it’s one of the reasons the manager loves him so much.
Speaking about the tricky forward in January, the manager admitted: “I think he’s got composure which could do with an element of improvement. Technically, physically and charisma, he’s got all of that to go and be successful at this level.
“He’s a tough little cookie and he wants to battle and bite. I like that,” Johnson added.
Gooch epitomised that before he went off against Swindon, transitioning well between the areas of the field in which he was asked to play. His versatility is an asset; let’s just hope he now doesn’t have to spend another period of time on the sidelines.