Lynden Gooch has revealed that he and Charlie Wyke helped each other along the way as the pair battled back from ankle injuries.
The pair suffered similar ankle ligament injuries within a week of each other and sat out around seven weeks of football as Sunderland struggled without them.
Wyke lasted just 45 minutes of Phil Parkinson's first game in charge, while Gooch had to be withdrawn during the new manager's home debut against Tranmere days later.
Their absence coincided with a massive drop in form for Sunderland, as pressure grows on Parkinson with Sunderland 12th in League One.
But the pair have returned in the last two games respectively, and have both shown flashes of how big an asset they can be, with Wyke unlucky not to net at Gillingham, before doing so against Blackpool, and Gooch having a strong cameo from the bench in the latter game.
Speaking of the pair's rehab, Gooch said: "The rehab is always hard. That's always hard work. Anything you can think of, you name it., we've done it. Me and Charlie together.
"It's always tough. You have to do a lot of cardio stuff to make sure you stay fit and that's the tough bit.
"It was helpful having Charlie there because we had similar injuries at the same time. So we're always asking each other 'How's this? How's that?' Obviously you don't want to see people getting injured but if you have someone with you, it also helps to rehab together, you can push each other on and help each other to get fit, and we certainly helped each other.
"He came back a little ahead of me and should already have two goals, but it was great for him to get his goal at the weekend. We're quite close mates anyway, so it's good that we had each other to push each other on."
The pair will both be pushing to start on Boxing Day when Sunderland host Bolton at the Stadium of Light. The extra days with no game for the Black Cats this weekend due to Bury's demise, should allow Gooch the extra time to be ready to start, although he will be expected to get a few more minutes in the tank when Sunderland play a behind-closed-doors friendly at the weekend.
Of his return to action last Saturday, the 23-year-old American said: "It's always tough coming off the bench, especially in a frantic game like that, and then going down to 10 men, so that that was obviously tough. But I was happy to get a few touches on the ball and get back in.
"The ankle is much better. I'm fully fit. I'm training every day, so I just need to keep making sure it's good and keep strengthening it to make sure it stays that way."