Leeds United promotion rivals lose midfielder for a month as Archie Gray misses out

Leeds United’s promotion rivals Sunderland will be without one of their brightest midfield prospects throughout November after England’s Under-17 World Cup squad was named.

The Black Cats will be without burgeoning Three Lions talent Chris Rigg, who has been named in the World Cup squad for the annual tournament, this year based in Indonesia. Rigg has made seven appearances, scoring two goals, for Tony Mowbray’s side this season but has been granted leave to represent England at the competition which was won by the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Emile Smith Rowe back in 2017.

This year’s competition begins on November 10, with the final game scheduled for December 2. Should England go all the way, Rigg would be absent for a minimum of four Championship fixtures. Leeds visit the Stadium of Light on December 12 when the 16-year-old is likely to return to the squad, however.

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Sunderland currently trail the Whites by three points and five places in the Championship table as they look to secure a Premier League return after several years away. Last season, the north-east club were eliminated at the play-off semi-final stage by eventual promotion winners Luton Town.

Rigg’s call-up to the tournament squad serves as an indirect reminder of Archie Gray’s development at Elland Road. The Leeds teenager is still eligible to represent England’s Under-17 group internationally, although has more recently played a central role for the Under-19s.

After Daniel Farke’s comments earlier this season regarding Gray’s involvement for Leeds, in comparison to youth international fixtures, it is little surprise the teen has not been named in the World Cup squad travelling to Indonesia.

The Whites’ midfielder would have missed games against Plymouth Argyle, Rotherham United, Swansea City and Middlesbrough had he been selected and permitted to go. That will not be a concern for Farke who is likely to use the 17-year-old extensively throughout the remainder of the season.

Full England squad at 2023 FIFA Under-17 World Cup:

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Goalkeepers: Ted Curd (Hashtag United, loan from Chelsea), Finlay Herrick (West Ham United), Tommy Setford (Ajax).

Defenders: Josh Acheampong (Chelsea), Joe Johnson (Luton Town), Jayden Meghoma (Southampton), Harrison Murray-Campbell (Chelsea), Lakyle Samuel (Manchester City), Ishé Samuels Smith (Chelsea).

Midfielders: Samuel Amo-Ameyaw (Southampton), Michael Golding (Chelsea), Myles Lewis-Skelly (Arsenal), Finley McAllister (Manchester United), Chris Rigg (Sunderland), Reiss-Alexander Russell-Denny (Chelsea).

Forwards: Tyler Dibling (Southampton), Joel Ndala (Manchester City), Ethan Nwaneri (Arsenal), Justin Oboavwoduo (Manchester City), Archie Stevens (Glasgow Rangers), Matthew Warhurst (Manchester City).

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