However, the January 2021 signing from Forest Green Rovers was a key contributor throughout the campaign and should remain a valued member of the first team squad heading into next season.
The specialist central midfielder filled in admirably at right back for an extended period, and even on the right side of a back three under Alex Neil, but he faces a battle to break back into the side after the Black Cats’ excellent displays in the play-offs.
The 29-year-old opened up on promotion and his intentions for next season when he spoke to ChronicleLive.
He said: “I’m delighted for everyone.
“It’s been a long season and had it’s ups and downs but look, the lads dug in and I’m just delighted they got over the line in the end.
“I said at the start I would do anything to get this club promoted and I’m gutted I was out for the play-offs.
“I’ve played a big part in the season which I’m happy for.
“Hopefully, that’s the aim (to play in the Championship next season).
“To come back in pre-season, work hard and see if I can get in the team.
“I’m going to work my socks off like I have this season.”
Sunderland’s summer transfer business is going to be very interesting to observe, given Winchester’s versatility it is very unlikely that he falls out of favour under Neil, despite missing the play-offs.
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Winchester will definitely go down as an unsung hero as Sunderland finally won promotion from League One.
The 29-year-old did not come in with a big reputation from the Green in 2021 but contributed a lot in a season and a half in the third tier.
The Northern Ireland international was crucial cog under Lee Johnson, who set the season up very well for Neil to come in and take them over the line.
It seems unlikely at this stage, with the momentum they have built under Neil, that the Black Cats will struggle to stay up next season, but if some adversity does arise, Winchester would be a reliable player to call on in tense moments.