Lee Johnson reveals Lynden Gooch and Tom Flanagan fitness boost ahead of Ipswich Town clash

Lee Johnson expects his Sunderland squad to be bolstered by the return of two key senior players to fitness this week.
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Both Lynden Gooch and Tom Flanagan have an outside chance of making the squad on Tuesday night when the Black Cats face Ipswich Town in a game crucial to their promotion ambitions.

Gooch has been absent in recent games after testing positive for COVID-19 the day before the 3-0 win over AFC Wimbledon.

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He has been asymptomatic, but his self-isolation period only ends on Tuesday and as such, Johnson may well be cautious in managing his workload.

Lynden Gooch could return to the Sunderland squad on Tuesday nightLynden Gooch could return to the Sunderland squad on Tuesday night
Lynden Gooch could return to the Sunderland squad on Tuesday night

Flanagan has been absent with a broken metatarsal, but is also on the brink of returning.

That news further boosted Johnson's mood as he reflected on an often difficult but ultimately crucial 1-0 win over Shrewsbury Town.

"I've got the option to [freshen team up for Ipswich],” he said.

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"We're not a million miles away from having Tom Flanagan back, which is good.

Lynden Gooch comes into contention for that game, although he only comes out of isolation on Tuesday. He might be able to be on the bench if we needed him to.

"We're getting a set of players who are fit.

"It's a tough league and a tough team.

"You saw against Shrewsbury that as the pitch cut up, everyone was leggy. Sometimes the entertainment factor falls away a bit but at the same time, everyone will have had that nice feeling of three points on a Saturday night."

Luke O'Nien made his return from injury in that win, playing the final minutes in a midfield role.

It was his first appearance under Johnson.

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Johnson said: "I think he’s overcome that hurdle – apart from when he took a throw-in, when it looked like someone had jolted him with an electric shock"

"He’s an interesting character isn’t he, and I have enjoyed his personality.

"At times he is like a wasp in a vase but it is all part of him wanting to do well and be the best he can be, and put the effort in to make that happen.

Hopefully he came through today unscathed and will be ready to go to Ipswich, along with maybe one or two other players who have been out injured."