Why Sunderland’s Chris Rigg and Tom Watson didn’t feature for U21s side as coach explains future aspirations

Some of Sunderland’s U21s players are away on international duty and missed Monday’s Premier League Cup match against Peterborough.
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Sunderland Under-21s boss Graeme Murty hopes Sunderland can develop more young players who can represent their countries at youth level and above.

Midfielder Chris Rigg, 16, and winger Tom Watson, 17, have both been named in England’s under-18s squad for the upcoming international break, meaning they missed Sunderland’s under-21s match against Peterborough on Monday.

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England’s under-18s side will play warm-up matches against Belgium, Morocco and South Korea at the Marbella Football Centre this month, with Ryan Garry’s side preparing for this year’s U17 World Cup which will run from November 10 to December 2.

Rigg and Watson could come up against Sunderland teammate Trey Ogunsuyi when England face Belgium on Wednesday, October 11, with the 16-year-old forward part of the Belgians’ under-18s squad for the second time this year.

When asked about Rigg and Watson, Murty told the Echo: “They are both away with England and Trey Ogunsuyi is away with Belgium as well so they are going to be locking horns in Spain which is good for them. I’m sure our recruitment group will send lots of people to go to Spain for a really, really hard trip to watch that.

“We think it’s really good recognition for the hard work the lads have put in. The club trusts the young players as is shown by Chris coming on for half an hour the other day for the first team. We want to be a developmental academy, we want people pushing through and hopefully these guys are just the tip of the iceberg.”