Lynden Gooch reflects on his comeback, his love for Sunderland and the big changes in his life this year
Lynden Gooch is eager to rediscover his early-season form after making his comeback from a frustrating injury against Blackpool.
Gooch scored in Phil Parkinson’s second game at the helm, an emphatic 5-0 win over Tranmere Rovers.
An ankle injury forced his early departure from that game and the damage proved to be worse than initially expected.
Parkinson has been eager to get Gooch back on the pitch and he looked bright in a late cameo even as Sunderland struggled to another disappointing result against Simon Grayson’s side.
Gooch was one of the brighter performers in the early weeks of the campaign and is eager to pick up where he left off.
"It was nice to be back, obviously it was seven weeks I was out,” Gooch said.
“It was a lot longer than we expected at first. So that was a disappointing and frustrating time, especially with the new manager coming in. I started off well with him against Tranmere with him and then I had to go off injured. It was tough, and obviously results have been tough, and I haven't been able to try and help the team, so it was nice to be back.
"I think for any player that's injured, even if the team are doing well, you want to be a part of it. And wen things aren't going well, you want to try and help out and change things. That's just part of being injured, it's a tough time.
"It's frustrating as well especially when you're playing well and you want to keep playing, you can't wait for the next game. I obviously got a few goals, and hopefully I can get back into that and get sharp, and build on that start to the season.
"It was helpful having Charlie there because we had similar injuries at the same time,” he added.
“So we're always asking each other 'How's this? How's that?' Obviously you don't want to see people getting injured but if you have someone with you, it also helps to rehab together, you can push each other on and help each other to get fit, and we certainly helped each other.
“He came back a little ahead of me and should already have two goals, but it was great for him to get his goal at the weekend. We're quite close mates anyway, so it's good that we had each other to push each other on.
“I'm fully fit [now], training every day, so I just need to keep making sure it's good and keep strengthening it to make sure it stays that way.
"It's always tough coming off the bench, especially in a frantic game like that, and then going down to 10 men, so that that was obviously tough. But I was happy to get a few touches on the ball and get back in.
"We would like to have a game this weekend, but it just gives me more time to get sharper on the training pitch and do my fitness work as well so I can be more match fit.”
It has been a mixed year for Gooch, whose form dipped after a stellar start to Sunderland’s life in League One under Jack Ross.
He has nevertheless established himself as a crucial member of the first-team squad and off the pitch, he became a father for the first time in the early months of the year.
He suspects that may well have had an impact but feels in a good place and with a close bond to the club and the region, is determined to play his part in turning around a wretched run of form.
“I said to many people at the time I didn't feel any different to what I was doing at the start of the season when I was scoring a lot of goals and having a lot of assists,” he said.
“But it probably did. You know, it's a completely different lifestyle, especially for your first. Your life's completely changed forever. Now he is my priority - for me and my partner.
“So it was something that probably I didn't realise at the time, but it probably did affect the way I was playing. That's one of those things. There's more to life than football, and many people have kids and that's got to be your main priority in life.
“But now, ten months along the line, you learn a lot and you learn how to deal with things and look after yourself. It's all a learning curve. I'm still 23, well, nearly 24.
"I love [being a dad], absolutely love it. Me and my partner, we knew we wanted to be young parents and it is really nice, and he's a good kid so no complaints there.
"He'll definitely be a little Mackem,” he added.
“Every time he sees the badge on my shirt he wants to play with it. So he'll be in for some heartache as well as everyone else I'm sure! But yeah, my partner’s family, they're all Mackems as well.
"Travelling for away games can be difficult, but my partner is born and bred here, all her family are here, so they are here to help us out a lot as well. They've been brilliant since day one, to make sure I can focus on my football as well."