Sunderland’s Chris Rigg plan after World Cup exit as Mowbray sets next challenge for ‘special’ teen

After England’s exit from the Under-17 World Cup, Sunderland expects Chris Rigg to be back in training and first-team contention early next week.

The Young Lions were knocked out in the round of 16 by Uzbekistan earlier this week, but after a long journey back from Indonesia, Rigg is still not at Sunderland’s training camp and will not be going with the group to Plymouth today ahead of tomorrow’s Championship clash.

Mowbray, on the other hand, expects the 16-year-old to be back in the starting lineup when Huddersfield visit the Stadium of Light next Wednesday night. Rigg has been chosen to the Sunderland matchday squad for 13 of the club’s 16 Championship games this season.

“Whenever he gets back, I’m not 100% sure when, there’s every chance he’ll be back involved with the group training at the start of next week,” said Mowbray.

“He won’t be coming this weekend, he hasn’t been in training today (Thursday) for instance.

“We have a game on Wednesday. We’ll see how he is, how he feels and see how much the travelling has taken out of him or the game-time. He’ll drop back into training and we’ll see how he is.”

Sunderland’s great regard for Rigg is shown in the fact that, despite his age, the midfielder will return to the starting lineup.

Mowbray has worked with a number of young players throughout his tenure as manager, but Rigg stands out, and the head coach is now challenging the teenager to force his way into Sunderland’s starting XI.


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“A lot of young players come and train with us and they’re very talented and they’re good,” said Mowbray.

“Rigg is just a little bit special, I think. I put that down to, while he has a lot of talent, he has an amazing personality and attitude. That sets him aside a little bit.

“He has no fear of coming to train with the first team and actually engaging and competing and his place in the squad is warranted. I’m delighted he went away for a World Cup, it will have been a great experience for him. But he has to come back and as quickly as he can integrate himself back into training and get himself back in competition to get back in the starting team.”

While Rigg will not play in Plymouth, Jobe Bellingham looks certain to keep his spot following a well-deserved rest during the international break.

Despite the fact that Bellingham is only 18 years old, he has played in every Championship game this season as well as linking up with England’s youth sides during international breaks – but club and country decided that the midfielder would be better off staying at home and resting during the most recent pause.

“He’s had a break in this international window – he didn’t go away with the international team – and he’s looked really good in training the last few days,” Mowbray explained.

“Jobe is pretty unique in the age group he plays having played every Championship fixture this year. We’re not talking about a young player with a few appearances off the bench here and there, 20 minutes or so. He’s playing every match at Championship level and they are coming thick and fast.

“It’s right that there’s a discussion of the welfare of the player, we felt it was best [that he rests] and I think England felt that it was fair that he missed this one. They can see the minutes he’s playing and the level he’s playing at, and the benefits of that.”


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