Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman has spoken of his ‘pride’ after teen sensation Chris Rigg was named in the England squad for this month’s U17 World Cup in Indonesia – even though it means the midfielder could miss almost a month of the Black Cats’ Championship campaign. The 16-year-old academy product has been included in Ryan Garry’s 21-man squad for the competition, which gets under way on November 10.
Rigg’s inclusion means he is set to miss Sunderland’s home game against Birmingham City on November 11, with the Young Lions facing New Caledonia in their opening Group C game at the Jakarta International Stadium on the same day. Their two remaining group games, against Iran on November 14 and Brazil on November 17, both take place while the Championship pauses for the international break.
But should England progress, tournament continues throughout November and concludes on December 2. If the Young Lions make it to the knockout stage, it would almost certainly rule Rigg out of Sunderland’s trip to Plymouth on November 25 when the Championship campaign resumes for Tony Mowbray’s men.
And if they make it to the quarter-final, that would rule him out of the home game against Huddersfield Town. If they go all the way to the final, that game would be played on the same day that the Black Cats take on Millwall at The Den.
Speakman said: “We’re all delighted with Chris’ development and there is a shared sense of pride throughout the club that he’s been selected to represent England at such a prestigious tournament. It’s a mark of his progression that we had to discuss the implications that his absence would have on our squad, but both Tony and I felt this was a vital and unique experience for Chris and we’re looking forward to supporting him from afar.”
Rigg has been capped numerous times at U15, U16, and U17 levels, and last month he made his debut for the U18s. He made his Sunderland debut in the FA Cup against Shrewsbury Town in January, becoming the club’s youngest-ever outfielder, and went on to become the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer when he found the net on his first start against Crewe Alexandra in the Carabao Cup in August.
Rigg then scored on his league debut against Southampton, becoming the club’s youngest-ever league goalscorer.
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