Preston players play Santa in hospital visit

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Preston North End’s squad delivered some festive cheer to children who are facing the prospect of spending the Christmas period in hospital.

The PNE players visited the children’s ward at the Royal Preston Hospital yesterday to hand out presents to the youngsters.

A friendly face: Scott Laird, on crutches himself, calls on Poppy Price and Hospital Play Specialist Justine Makin

A friendly face: Scott Laird, on crutches himself, calls on Poppy Price and Hospital Play Specialist Justine Makin

Club mascot Deepdale Duck led the tour, with the players chatting with the children and their parents.

They’d had a collection to buy sackfuls of toys and PNE goodies for the patients.

North End’s leading scorer Nicky Wroe said: “It is nice to come down and if we can put smiles on the kids’ faces at this time of year then it is really worthwhile.

“There’s never a good time to be in hospital and being in here at Christmas is especially difficult for children.

“We had a whip-round among the lads to buy some presents and hopefully that can cheer them up.

“I don’t have kids myself but I have a couple of nephews and I know how they really enjoy Christmas.

“Hopefully by coming to the hospital we can make things a bit happier for the children.”

Anthony Elding marked the occasion by scoring his first goal since joining North End.

But it was on FIFA that the striker found the net during a game against one of the children!

Elding, who is on loan from Grimsby until New Year’s Day, said: “To be able to come here and give our support to the children is fantastic.

“At this time of the year, kids want to be at home enjoying the build-up to Christmas with their families but unfortunately they can’t be.

“Coming here as a squad has put some smiles on their faces.

“Seeing them smiling has made us smile and hopefully some of them will be well enough to leave hospital before Christmas.

“I had a little go on FIFA with one of the kids and I managed to score a goal which was nice!

“I’m a family man, I know what Christmas is like.

“The children here aren’t in an ideal place and we can do our bit to help them by coming in and cheering them up.”

Hobbling around the ward on crutches with his team-mates was Scott Laird.

The left-back broke his leg in last month’s goalless draw against Notts County and won’t play again this season.

Laird had seen plenty of the hospital after suffering his bad break, but was happy to pay a return visit.

“The nurses and staff do a fantastic job here and it’s nice to come back in different circumstances,” said Laird.