The message Lee Johnson had for Lynden Gooch after his superb Sunderland showing posed a welcome dilemma

Lynden Gooch has given Lee Johnson a welcome dilemma ahead of the play-off campaign after a superb display at Plymouth Argyle last weekend.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 6:00 am

Gooch has played in a number of positions since Johnson arrived in December last year but at Home Park was restored to his favoured role, operating just behind the main striker.

The 26-year-old played a part in all three goals, and quickly formed a very productive partnership with Ross Stewart.

Johnson said his performance 'epitomised' the academy graduare as his best and wants to see more of the composure which defined his decision making in the 3-1 win.

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Lynden Gooch played a part in all three goals at Home Park

"I spoke to Lynden on Thursday and we had a chat," Johnson said.

"I thought his temperament was fantastic. I think sometimes he can be a little bit emotive on the pitch which can be his strength and his weakness.

"He's a real bustler and he's my kind of player in that you feel like he reflects you on the pitch. He's not going to give up, he'll tackle, complete, hustle and harry.

"At the same time, it's probably an improvement point for him to keep making good decisions. Sometimes it can be a bit of a domino effect where bad decisions can escalate within a game and we don't want that.

"His game and his performance against Plymouth absolutely epitomised the best of him.

"His awareness of space was fantastic, so many good touches to turn. He was dynamic, went past people, played his part in the goals.

"It was a really considered, strong, professional performance and that's what we expect.

"He's been versatile and he's dug in for us, which is what we've needed with five or six of our backline out injured."

Johnson is hopeful that Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke, who missed the game last Saturday through injury, will be able to play some part in Sunday's game.

The pair have been utterly integral to Johnson's plans since his arrival but the head coach is pleased that a different look forward line caused so many problems for their opponent.

"It was a very pacy frontline and in transition we looked devastating at times," Johnson said.

"Actually right at the end of the move we weren't able to execute but on another day we could have scored six or seven.

"We've got to make better decisions and I think Charlie and Aiden are both excellent on that, experienced in the way they make those decisions.

"We're all in it together and it's not one player versus another, but I've got decisions to make."

Sunderland's first week without a midweek fixture for some time has given the group a welcome chance to pause, particularly knowing their play-off place is secure.

Johnson believes that pause, as well as the one that follows this weekend's game, will be crucial for his side ahead of the play-offs.

"We massively needed that breather, I talked last week about hitting that reset button," he said.

"Whether that was through a win or a rest.

"It feels like we've hit that reset button nicely going into this game and then the play-offs."

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