BLACKBURN Rovers took time out from climbing the Championship league table to visit youngsters at Royal Blackburn Hospital.

Alongside manager Tony Mowbray, 12 senior players brought gifts and chatted to children and their families as they went round the wards yesterday.

Smiles were etched across the faces of the little ones as the stars walked into the rooms.

Rovers fan Archie Hardy, seven, got to meet his hero Bradley Dack and was given a variety of gifts.

He said: “It was fantastic to see all the players. I’m really happy I got to meet them.”

His dad, Peter Clarkson, said: “It shows the players actually care about their fans and aren’t just in it for the money.

“It shows they’re all really thoughtful.”

Players met the children and staff in the colourful play area.

Mr Mowbray, who has been in charge of the club since 2017, said: “This is my third time here and it’s always sad to see children and their families, here at Christmas time, not at home looking at all the presents under the tree, but laying in a hospital bed with nurses around.

“As a father, my youngest is 10, it hits home. Life is about family and the people you love and care about.

“If we can play a small part and put a smile on someone’s face by walking around the ward and handing out a few presents then that’s great.

“We wish everyone well in this period and hope they get home soon.”

Rovers are in fine form with five wins and a draw in their last six matches, sitting one point off sixth place and a win off third.

The club’s next match is home to relegation threatened Wigan on Monday evening.

Former England international Stewart Downing said: “It’s always really nice to come out and see the young fans.

“A lot of the players have children of their own and you realise a lot of these children will not be spending Christmas at home with their families like we will be.

“I hope we can make a difference.”

Darragh Lenihan said: “It’s great to come in to the hospital and see the kids.

“It’s not nice to see the kids sick, but whatever the club can do we will do it to the best of our abilities.”