Jon McLaughlin identifies two key players as Sunderland aim to kick-start season against Accrington and Portsmouth
Jon McLaughlin has hailed the bravery of Chris Maguire in helping inspire a Sunderland comeback in the draw with Ipswich Town.
It could – and should – have been game over at half-time at Portman Road give the dominance of the home side and the dismal performance of Sunderland in the opening 45 minute spell.
Lynden Gooch eventually cancelled out Luke Garbutt’s opener to rescue a point for Sunderland, with Maguire playing a big role in the second half fightback.
Jack Ross replaced the struggling Denver Hume with Maguire and the forward made an instant impact, a constant menace and one the hosts found difficult to deal with.
McLaughlin has praised his impact and the early season form of Gooch, who now has two in two.
On Gooch, McLaughlin said: “He has come back in and has done really well, he has taken his opportunity, he may have been frustrated a little bit in the second half of last season.
“As we saw in the first half of last season he is a vital player, he is a real livewire for us and he has got off to a good start with a couple of goals. He looked very lively.
“Chris coming off the bench, fair play to him he was different class second half, getting on the ball and wanting it and being brave enough to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter
“The more we can have that going forward, the better.
“At the back we have not been tested hugely, we have to be hard on ourselves, last week maybe a little unlucky but [against Ipswich] it was a soft goal.
“We have plenty to work on, on the training pitch.”
Sunderland face Accrington Stanley away on Tuesday night in the Carabao Cup first round before the crunch visit of League One promotion rivals Portsmouth on Saturday lunchtime.
McLaughlin added: “There is plenty of talent in this team, we have shown that in glimpses what we can do and showed that last year - we have to put it together both ends of the pitch and be more ruthless and more clinical.
“We know exactly what we need to do.”