A SOLDIER killed in a bomb blast in Afghanistan has been named as a 23-year-old from the North-East.

Lance Corporal Kyle Cleet Marshall, from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, died on Monday during an operation to reassure and improve security for the population in an area in the south of the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

He was fatally wounded by an improvised explosive device following an engagement with insurgents.

L Cpl Marshall was from Newcastle, but lived in Colchester.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Defence this morning described him as an outstanding soldier and non-commissioned officer.

"He was a leading figure in B Company during the training for Afghanistan," said the statement.

"A popular and cheerful soldier, he was a natural leader who enthused all of those amongst whom he worked.

"He was a keen footballer, passionate Newcastle United supporter, and had played to county level in his youth."

He leaves behind his father Garry, his mother Olywn and his fiancée, Hayley, whom he was due to marry after the tour.

His family said: "Kyle was a very lively, outgoing, loving and much-loved son.

"He will be sadly missed by all his family and friends.

"He was due to be married in July to his fiancée, Hayley. We take comfort in the fact that he is now with his granddad who died some years ago."

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Harrison, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said: "Lance Corporal Kyle Marshall was one of the most popular young commanders in the Battalion.

"A charismatic, upbeat Geordie, he was ice-cool under fire and a natural leader always.

"He mentored, coaxed and taught his soldiers with consummate passion and consistent diligence.

"He was ever-optimistic, even in the bleakest of circumstances, and could charm all he met. He is irreplaceable."