Mixed fortunes for Sunderland trio on international duty - including red card and captaincy call
International round-up after some of Sunderland’s players were in action for England’s youth teams.
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Sunderland youngsters Jobe Bellingham, Chris Rigg and Tom Watson all featured in matches for England’s youth teams - with mixed fortunes for the trio while on international duty.
Bellingham, 18, played 90 minutes as The Three Lions’ under-19s side drew 0-0 against Montenegro in their opening U19s Euro qualification match at the DG Arena Lješkopolje in Podgorica.
England’s under-19s side will now face Wales on Saturday and Austria on Tuesday in two more qualifying matches, which will both be played at the same venue in Montenegro.
Sunderland midfielder Chris Rigg, 16, was also in action as he captained England’s under-18s side during a 1-1 draw against Belgium at the Marbella Football Centre, a warm-up match ahead of this year’s U17 World Cup which will run from November 10 to December 2.
Newcastle’s Anthony Munda put England ahead in the first half before Belgium equalised after the break. Sunderland winger Tom Watson, 17, replaced Rigg in the 74th minute but was sent off in the final minute after bringing down the last man as Belgium broke forward. Black Cats forward Trey Ogunsuyi, 16, was also named on the bench for Belgium.
England will play two more warm-up matches in Marbella during this month’s international break, with Ryan Garry’s side set to face Morocco and South Korea on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.
Despite Watson’s red card against Belgium, Sunderland’s international call-ups at youth level have highlighted the club’s efforts to develop players within their academy and give younger players a chance.
When asked about Rigg and Watson representing England at youth level, Sunderland’s under-21s boss Graeme Murty told the Echo: “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.”