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England v Uzbekistan - Round 16: FIFA U-17 World Cup

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How key will Chris Rigg be for Sunderland during the coming weeks?

The talented academy graduate will soon be back from the FIFA U17 World Cup, so how big a role will he play for us during December’s fixtures, and in which position?

Photo by Alex Caparros - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says…

I wouldn’t venture away from our current approach to Chris Rigg. He’s an exceptional young talent but he’s also extremely young in footballing terms, so there’s no need to rush the process.

Games will come thick and fast in the run up to Christmas, and the festive period is always a demanding time which takes it’s toll on even the strongest of squads.

Currently, Rigg is not an automatic choice and I don’t think that was ever the plan for this season. However, I would like to see him get as much time on the bench as possible and if injuries and suspensions take their toll in the coming weeks, Rigg could be well placed to fill a void should the need occur. If he is handed an opportunity, I’m sure Chris will be determined to take it.

But for now, let’s see how things pan out and there’s no need to rush what has already been an impressive period of development for the youngster, with occasional appearances for us coupled with international recognition for England at under 17 level.

New Caledonia v England - Group C: FIFA U-17 World Cup Photo by Alex Caparros - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

We need to nurture this lad rather than force him before he’s ready, but I’d like to see Rigg play a part in our condensed winter schedule if a chance arises.

Minutes in FA Cup games are very likely but if he can get more than that, I wouldn’t be disappointed. Despite his tender age, he’s already shown that he has an incredible level of natural talent.

As a midfielder with a great touch and wonderful vision, he’s arguably trying to get game time in one of the most competitive areas of the pitch, but if we can play Jobe Bellingham as we are and expect him to create chances and notch the odd goal too, I see no reason why we can’t give Rigg the same opportunity.

I’m not saying that he’s another Jobe right now, but I think he has the talent to be at similar levels in a year or two.

There have been times of late when Jobe has been subbed off around seventy minutes in to be replaced by other promising players, as well as the likes of Alex Pritchard, and whilst he isn’t a bad option, the future is with the likes of Rigg.

Using Rigg off the bench when Jobe needs a rest makes a lot of sense to me, especially if games are already going well in our favour. He has a great football brain for his age, plenty of talent and isn’t scared to get forward.

Let’s definitely do this in a structured and steady way, but we need to build his experience and development, and if he gets bored in the junior ranks that will be a challenge to manage anyway.

Way beyond this winter, Rigg will be a star of the future, so starting his further development now won’t do him or us any harm if done in a steady but positive way.

Sunderland v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says…

Time is firmly on Rigg’s side upon his return to Sunderland so I’m willing to let the management decide how best to utilise him for his long term benefit.

So far this season, his appearances have been fleeting but have also given him valuable exposure to playing in big games.

His continued presence around the first team is something that can only be good for him, as highlighted in the management of other players we now see regularly in our match day squads.

As far as Rigg is concerned, he’s a prize asset and as such, succumbing to haste in order to maximise his value may not prove beneficial for his long term future.

The best thing we can do is treat him as a long term project; to allow him to grow into himself, assess his strengths and provide him which an environment in which to make mistakes and learn.

Nobody at the club is better placed to assess these factors as the men who have overseen the development of a certain Jude Bellingham…and his brother isn’t half bad, either.


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