Lynden Gooch says the return to fitness of Jan Kirchhoff can make a big impact in Sunderland’s push for Premier League survival.
Former Bayern Munich midfielder Kirchhoff – whose season has been wrecked by a series of injury problems – managed 64 minutes for the Black Cats’ Under-23s in Monday night’s clash with Manchester United.
And Gooch – back to full fitness himself – hailed the German, and his potential to be a key man in the fight for top-flight safety.
Gooch says he will help the Black Cats get control in midfield, an area where they have struggled for much of this season.
The American said: “He’s a player who can control things, who can control games from midfield.
“We need him back because he is an important figure in the squad who can solidify the midfield, just in front of the back four.”
Apart from Kirchhoff, the Under-23s’ disappointing Premier League 2 defeat to Manchester United has at least boosted David Moyes’ first-team selection options, believes Gooch.
George Honeyman, Donald Love and Gooch himself all completed 90 minutes in the 3-1 loss at Eppleton CW on Monday night, with Honeyman grabbing the consolation goal in stoppage time.
Gooch has endured a frustrating period since returning from an ankle ligament injury – he was not part of the squad that lost 2-0 to Manchester City in Sunday’s Premier League clash.
However, the 21-year-old feels he is ready to step in and aid Sunderland’s fight against relegation, if needed.
Asked if he was disappointed by the defeat against lowly United, the American said: “A little bit, yes. The first goal was penalty which was obviously frustrating, and then the second goal was a deflection, so, at 2-0, immediately you’re under pressure.
“But, from my point of view, I needed minutes to stay sharp in case I am needed for the first-team.
“I need more time on the pitch. It’s frustrating not being involved, but I have to be ready in case I am called upon.
“We all want to play so we need minutes to stay sharp and make sure we are ready in case there are more injuries or if the manager picks us.”