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Arsenal must end season on a high

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Southgate: Porritt innocent in BBC TV sting

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate has placed a protective arm around the teenager caught up in the Panorama investigation into football.

Nathan Porritt found his name splashed across the back pages this week after the BBC broadcast footage of his agent, Peter Harrison, allegedly offering the then 15-year-old to Chelsea and Liverpool and claiming to have held talks with Newcastle.

The Teessiders have signalled their intention to launch an official complaint against Harrison - who has announced he will sue over wider accusations made against him - to the Football Association and the Premier League.

However, Southgate revealed he had sought out Porritt, now a 16-year-old Academy scholar, to reassure him.

He said: 'I have spoken to Nathan, just to let him know that he is pretty much an innocent party in what has gone on.

'We are delighted to have him here and if he needs any help from us, then we are here to help him.

'It is a great shame that he has been put under that spotlight through no fault of his own.

'He is with us now and the other side of things is for the club to deal with at a higher level than me.'

Boro's youth set-up has become the envy of many of their Premiership rivals in recent years and, while the higher echelons will set about the business of protecting the club's interests, Southgate will concentrate on the playing side.

He said: 'It is really for (chief executive) Keith (Lamb) and (chairman) Steve Gibson to deal with, really.

'I was aware of Nathan last year, I saw him playing in the youth team last year so I knew what a talented player he was.

'He is one of many at the club, and we are trying to bring several of them through and it is not for me to focus too much on him.

'There are other guys there that warrant the same attention, but unfortunately, he has been thrown into something I am sure he feels he could have done without.'