Gooch admitted last week that he had come close to leaving the club on deadline day in January, with his long-term future looking uncertain.
Sunderland are looking to step up their recruitment drive in the coming weeks ahead of their return to the Championship, Neil admitting that the club has 'a lot of work to do'.
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And with a number of players likely to arrive, Neil says players like Gooch will be crucial in the transition period.
"I think it's vitally important that you do have people who know the club," Neil said.
"We're currently still in a position where we've got a lot of bodies that we need to recruit for this season. So when those players do come in the building it's vitally important that there's people here who know what the club is all about.
"That know how you need to adapt, what the fanbase is going to bring for us a team, and all the bits in between.
"I think it's important to have people who are Sunderland through and through, and the fabric of the club goes right through the top to the bottom.
"At every club, you'll have people who've been there ten, fifteen, twenty years, and whether it's the cleaner or Goochy in the first team, you need to make them feel included in what we're trying to do.
"You're only ever going to achieve something if you have everyone pulling in the same direction.
"With Goochy, his contribution since I came in, that's the only thing I can judge him on and it was very good. I don't even think he made it into my first team [against AFC Wimbledon], so he worked his way in on merit and was vitally important in the game we had towards the end of the season."
Gooch has signed a two-year deal to remain on Wearside.