Southgate’s visit to PNE soccer school

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England Under-21s boss Gareth Southgate was pleased to visit Preston North End’s thriving grassroots set-up this week.

The ex-England star announced his squad for the UEFA Under-21s Championship qualifiers at North End’s community soccer school programme, ahead of next Thursday’s international friendly clash against the USA Under-23s at Deepdale.

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More than 100 children took part at Playfootball Preston, in Tag Lane, Ingol.

And Southgate said that the school’s ethos of enjoying football, making friends and gaining confidence is something that should never change.

He said: “It is good fun. I think it is always nice to come back and see.

“Players that come into our squad, why did they start playing? It is because of things like this.

“Coming in the school holidays, enjoying their football, making new friends and gaining confidence.

“That should never change really as a player, although sometimes the focus does change a bit.”

Our pictures show youngsters enjoying the sunshine...and the football.

Picture special in Saturday’s LEP

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