Sunderland forward on Middlesbrough test and how Jack Ross has boosted team spirit
Lynden Gooch believes neighbours Middlesbrough will provide the perfect test for Sunderland in their final warm-up ahead of the League One campaign.
Sunderland conclude their friendly programme away to Championship Boro at the Riverside tonight (KO 7.30pm).
Jack Ross’ Sunderland thrashed his former club St Mirren 6-0 last week, but Gooch insists the squad are not getting carried away.
“I think Middlesbrough’s going to be a great test for us,” said the 22-year-old, who scored a brace against St Mirren.
“They’re a good team and they’re going to be well-drilled, but we’ve just got to take confidence from Saturday, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.
“It’s only one game that we’ve won 6-0.
“We’ve just got to stick to the game plan and work on what we’ve been doing day in, day out since the manager came in and give it a good go.
“The most positive thing was that everyone got in on the act. Me and Maj [Josh Maja] got two goals but Chris Maguire was great as well, he set up a lot of goals, and everyone was brilliant.
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“We won the ball back as soon as we lost it and that’s been a big part of our play in training. As soon as we loose the ball we try to latch on and win it high up the pitch.”
Ross played his strongest side available against Scottish Premiership outfit St Mirren.
Jerome Sinclair, who has joined on a season-long loan deal from Watford, has since arrived and is expected to feature tonight, but there are still a few players out injured including Aiden McGeady, Reece James and Ethan Robson.
Gooch added: “We’ve got a few players to come back as well. There’s still Aiden, who’s a fantastic player and he’ll be big for us as well this season. We’ve just got to keep going the way we are and stay confident.
“The gaffer’s said from day one we needed to create a good atmosphere and togetherness and that’s what we’re trying to do.
“Everyone’s getting along really well and I think the trip to Portugal really helped to make us a tight-knit group, spending every minute of the day with one another.
“It’s going really well and the new lads have settled in great.”