Ipswich schoolboy Jacob Lay hopes to make the grade with Championship club, Preston North End

Stoke High School pupil Jacob Lay has signed for Preston North End's Development squad.

Stoke High School pupil Jacob Lay has signed for Preston North End's Development squad. - Credit: Archant

As former Preston North End striker Joe Garner plans for life in the Championship at Portman Road, an Ipswich schoolboy is set to begin a new adventure at his former club.

Stoke High School pupil Jacob Lay (16), who has just completed his GCSE’s, has signed for Preston’s Youth Development Squad and will train full-time with the Championship club whilst studying for a BTEC in sport, in Lancashire.

Jacob began playing football just five years ago with the Rushmere Lions and, later, Ipswich Thistle, where he was spotted by Ipswich Town and won a place on the Blues’ youth development programme.

After moving to the Ipswich Elite Programme and playing for Brantham Athletic as an under-14, the youngster was invited to train by West Ham, only to withdraw after a month due to growing pains, which kept him out for four months.

After a short spell with AFC Sudbury, where he played in the Essex Reserve League and Thurlow Nunn Division One, the teenager went to the EFL Southern exit trials at Charter House School, in February and was approached by Preston, as well as League One outfit, AFC Wimbledon and League Two side Mansfield Town.

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With Preston his favoured choice, Jacob starred in a trial game, scoring once and setting up two further goals.

That was enough to impress coaches Phil Brown and Nick Harrison and to seal his place with the Lilywhites.

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He will start pre-season training on July 10, moving into his student accomodation two days earlier.

Jacob’s parents are delighted with their son’s move to Preston, but also gave a special mention to the academy and Dave Cannon, the head of recruitment and education at AFC Sudbury who played a brief, but important part in the youngster’s footballing development.

“We would like to say that AFC Sudbury’s youth coaching and people skills is unrivalled, giving so much positive feedback and building player belief up,” they said.

“They (Sudbury) are a real credit to semi-professional football, even playing Jacob against Stowmarket Town when they knew he was leaving.”

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