Lynden Gooch is relieved to back in the first team fold at Sunderland after admitting he rushed his return from injury last season.
Gooch was a suprise starter at the beginning of David Moyes’ tenure last season, before a dip in form saw him taken out of the side. It was in the U23 set-up that he suffered a serious ankle injury, from which his season never really recovered.
A superb display at Brunton Park in the Carabao Cup means he is now firmly in contention for a spot in the starting XI and he says he has been invigorated as a result.
“It was a frustrating time,” he said. “I was doing really well and it stopped my momentum. It was really hard getting back.
“I probably came back earlier than I should have, trying to push myself and help the team. It took me a while and I probably wasn’t back to normal, back to my best, until the end of the season.
“I just wanted to make sure that this season with the new manager I was ready to go.
“I had a little setback towards the end of pre-season, which halted me a bit, but it’s all come together now.
“Last season was up and down. It started so well for me then everything crashed down around December time and the club going down was a huge disappointment. I definitely needed the summer to recharge the batteries and get back focused on helping the team as much as I could.”
Simon Grayson has vowed to give Sunderland’s younger players a chance this season, with George Honeyman starting in every league game so far.
The Black Cats boss also has big hopes for Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair, who are nearing returns from cruciate ligament injuries.
Gooch says Grayson has been a great source of encouragement for the club’s youngsters.
He said: “From day one the manager said we would all get the chance and on Tuesday I got mine. Carlisle was my first start for a long time after my injury and everything so it was a relief. For the last six or so months it’s been tough but it’s worked out in the end.
“He just demands hard work, togetherness. I think everyone can see that, that all the boys are pulling together. The gaffer said from day one we’re a family now and we stick together no matter what. I think you can see that.
“We’re picking up points and doing well and I think we’re on the right track.”