The Sunderland dressing room view on Chris Rigg after 15-year-old makes impressive FA Cup cameo at Shrewsbury
Chris Rigg and Sunderland’s other academy players have made a big impression while training with the first team, according to Bailey Wright and Luke O’Nien.
The Black Cats named four teenagers on their nine-man substitutes bench for a 2-1 FA Cup win over Shrewsbury, including prospects Chris Rigg, Ben Middlemas, Tom Watson and Mason Cotcher.
Rigg came on with nine minutes remaining and won the corner which led to Ross Stewart's equaliser in the first minute of stoppage-time, before Luke O’Nien’s winner two minutes later.
When asked about the younger players in the squad, Wright told the Echo: “It’s good and they have been mixing well with the group and training really well.
“That is one of the biggest compliments I can give them. They are really level-headed lads who have trained really well and deserve this opportunity.
“They have not had a lot of sessions with us but the sessions that they’ve had they’ve stood out.
“For Riggy I think we all know what kind of talent he’s going to be and it’s important we keep him level-headed. I don’t think that’s an issue. I think he has a great attitude and is a good lad and a really good footballer.
“It’s great to see young players like that given a chance and not look out of place at all.
“I feel he’s a young player on the pitch you need to protect but at the same time he’s got that mentality that you forget his age so credit to him.”
O’Nien was also quick to praise Rigg after celebrating with the teenager following the full-time whistle at Shrewsbury.
“I have to say a big shoutout to Riggy,” O’Nien told the club’s website.
“He’s been coming up to the first team and made us all look silly.
“He’s 15, it’s incredible! I don’t know what I was doing at 15, I was nowhere near and never will be at his level.
“It’s really good to see him coming through and there are a few other youngsters coming through as well.
“They have come up to training and lifted the standard as well so it’s really good to see and good for the future of the club."
After falling behind to Matthew Pennington’s header nine minutes from time, Wright also highlighted Sunderland’s character to turn the match around with two late goals.
“I thought it was a good performance from us against a resilient Shrewsbury side,” he added. “They defended well and put bodies on the line.
“I think on the basis of that game we fully deserved to win it and didn’t deserve to go 1-0 down.
“When they scored it kind of gave us a kick up the backside to go and make sure we won it and when Rossco scored we kind of had a feeling we didn’t want to have a replay and wanted to make sure we were winning this and in the hat for the next round.
“Credit to everyone in difficult conditions, the pitch was maybe not as good as what we’ve played on in recent weeks and with swirling wind. I thought we played some really good football against a team that were hard to break down.”