Lynden Gooch is ready to return to Sunderland’s Premier League fight, and says he and fellow Black Cats’ youngsters can lead the way for David Moyes.
Gooch has not featured since the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in November, but with two U23 appearances under his belt he is ready to feature against Everton, if selected.
His return coincides with Jordan Pickford’s recovery from a ligament injury, as well as George Honeyman breaking into the first team set-up.
Duncan Watmore is a long-term absentee but quickly became a Moyes favourite earlier in the season, and Gooch says they can put pressure on the senior players and help boost spirits in the final stages of the season.
Gooch said: [Moyes] knows that he can trust me and George now, he’s played us and we’ve done our part to help the team and held our own, hopefully I’ll be able to play with George because we haven’t yet, which is funny.
“I think we’ve come in and lifted the group a bit, to know that these kids aren’t messing about, these kids want to take our place, the manager has shown we will if we’re good enough, I don’t think he’s scared to do that if people aren’t pulling their weight, he’ll change it and that’s how it is.
“I’ve been here on and off for around 11 years, I know what it means to everyone. I came into the U18s and had people like George look after me and show me the ropes, it’s amazing to be in the first team squad with him. Pickers and Duncan as well, we just want to do everything we can, we’ve been here long enough to know how much it means.
“That’s the way we’ve been brought up in the academy, to work hard, you need to have quality on the ball but if you’re not willing to run around and track back, defend, get up the pitch then you’re not going to play at the highest level.”
Gooch has also hailed the influence of David Moyes in what has been a breakthrough season for the 21-year-old.
Moyes threw Gooch into the fold at the start of the season before scaling back his involvement. Gooch has revealed his manager’s faith throughout his lay-off and wants to repay that in the coming months.
He said: “I got in the team and I was flying, playing well, and sometimes I think you do need a rest, I think the manager recognised that it was starting to catch up with me, the fast start, I played every minute for the first five or six games which was a bit crazy, there was a lot of things to deal with. I think he knew just to pull me back a bit.
“From the moment I did it [injury] the manager said don’t worry, you’ll come back, that obviously gave me a big boost to know that he was behind me and that I’d be back involved as soon as I was fit, that’s the way it has been straight away. I want to get back into the squad again and on the pitch.”