LYNDEN GOOCH admits Sunderland’s players cannot afford to feel sorry themselves as they look to end a nine-month wait for a home win, and is urging his team-mates to seize the initiative when they entertain Cardiff City tomorrow.

Last week’s 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest means the Black Cats have now gone 15 home games without recording a victory.

Their last success at the Stadium of Light was a 1-0 win over Watford on December 17, and for all that the squad has changed markedly since then, there is clearly a sizeable psychological hurdle to overcome when it comes to playing on home soil.

Loading article content

Gooch accepts the lack of home success has become an issue, but while tomorrow’s opponents might be 18 places above them in the table, the Sunderland midfielder sees no reason why a win over Cardiff should not be the result that stops the rot.

However, with confidence understandably fragile, the American accepts it will be important to make a positive start and ensure there is something to build on.

“We’re back at home, so we’ve got to try and make sure we take the initiative to get the three points,” said Gooch, who returned to the starting line-up as Sunderland were knocked out of the Carabao Cup at Everton on Wednesday night.

“We’ve actually started well at home in recent games and been unlucky not to get that goal. We’ve gone close a few times, but against the run of play they’ve nicked one and that’s been unlucky and disappointing. Hopefully we’ll be able to get that goal.

“Hopefully, being back at home will bring the best out of us, we know the task at hand. We haven’t won at home for a long time now and we need a win, simple as that. We need three points.”

Gooch’s promotion to the starting line-up at Goodison Park was one of six changes to the side that started last weekend’s Championship draw with Hull City.

The midfielder put in a decent enough shift, without ever really troubling the Everton defence, but will hope to have done enough to retain his place in the side tomorrow.

The same will be true of Donald Love, who returned to the team at right-back, Darron Gibson, who played at the base of midfield, and Jack Rodwell, who lined up against his former employers as he made his second senior start of the campaign.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game against a good team, but there was a chance for players to stake a claim for Saturday, especially for those of us who haven’t been playing,” said Gooch. “I don’t think anyone did themselves any harm.

“Everyone put a really good shift in, but the goals were disappointing. We knew they would have more possession of the ball with us being the away team and they’ve got really good players. But we’ve got a lot of players who’ve played in the Premier League as well, and for 30 minutes, we definitely held our own.”

Marc Wilson should be available for tomorrow’s game, having been left out of the Everton match as a precaution after picking up a groin problem. John O’Shea should also return to the squad, although it remains to be seen whether the Irishman is considered for the starting line-up.