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Sunderland could unearth the next Dan Neil in Chris Rigg

Sunderland have a number of talented young players who have been catching the eye in the academy set-up at the start of the 2022/23 campaign.

Max Thompson, who joined the club from fellow Championship side Burnley in the summer, has scored five goals and provided one assist in five Premier League 2 matches and the likes of Caden Kelly and Zak Johnson have also been regulars for the U21s.

They will all be hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous academy graduates and one of the players they are attempting to emulate is current first-team midfielder Daniel Neil.

The 20-year-old gem burst onto the scene last season as he played 39 matches in League One for the Black Cats under Lee Johnson and Alex Neil, starting 31 times.

He has remained a key player for Sunderland following their promotion to the second tier and has started 11 of the club’s 13 fixtures so far this term.

One player who could be the next Neil to step into the first-team set up, whilst playing in the same position, is 15-year-old central midfielder Chris Rigg.

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The talented youngster has stepped up to the U21s this season, despite not turning 16 until January, and has played twice in the Premier League 2 so far.

He was directly involved in four goals in nine appearances – two goals and two assists – for the U18s in 2021/22 and has set up one goal in his solitary outing for them in the current campaign.

Journalist Phil Smith claimed that he was “sensational” at that age group last season and his performances have not gone unnoticed outside of the Stadium of Light.

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Last month, it was reported that Premier League side Newcastle are interested in signing the midfielder from their bitter rivals for a fee of £2.5m. Sunderland are said to be desperate to keep him as he is rated as the best young prospect in the United Kingdom due to his performances for club and country.

The youngster has also proven himself to be a leader for his age, recently captaining England in a youth team match against Italy, and has been called up by his country at U15 and U16 level.

Whilst Mowbray may not call upon the youngster this season due to his age, he may look to unearth the youngster’s talent in the future and attempt to integrate him into the first team in the same way Johnson did with Neil in 2021/22.

Of course, it is down to Rigg to prove that he can handle the step up to senior football but his statistics, the interest in his services, and his international recognition suggest that he has the potential to do so, which is why he could be the next academy graduate to excel on Wearside.

Article title: Sunderland could unearth the next Dan Neil in Chris Rigg

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