Sunderland midfielder Lynden Gooch suffered a horrible injury last season in an under-23 game at Eppleton in November. It ended his chances of getting into the Sunderland first team, in what was set to be a breakthrough season for the American.
He made his international debut last October, but due to injury he would not play much more football for the rest of the season. Sunderland were mired in a losing relegation battle and David Moyes decided to keep the 21-year-old out of the firing line.
Speaking to Chronicle Live , Gooch said of his problematic season “It was a frustrating time, 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 (Grayson) I was ready to go."
With the Black Cats’ dropping down to the Championship this has presented Gooch with a fresh chance to force his way into the first-team. He did not appear in Sunderland's first match of the season, but he was a substitute in Sunderland’s next three matches.
Gooch got his first start in his favoured position – centre-forward – against Carlisle United in the League Cup and he scored in Sunderland's 2-1 win.
“From day one the manager said we would all get the chance and that was the day I got mine,” he says. “It was my first start for a long time after my injury (11 months) 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.”
On the subject of what Grayson wants from him Gooch said, “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.”