Liverpool's first-team players and staff took time out from their preparations for the busy festive period to bring some Christmas cheer to Alder Hey children's hospital on Thursday afternoon.

Brendan Rodgers, the team and the club mascot, Mighty Red, took on the role of Santa Claus for their annual visit to the local hospital to spend time with youngsters who are facing up to the prospect of remaining on the wards over the Christmas period and beyond.

After finishing their morning training session, the team departed Melwood just after lunchtime and arrived at Alder Hey with goodie bags filled with LFC merchandise to distribute to children and young people on the wards.

To ensure as many children as possible got the chance to meet their heroes, the players split up into five groups and visited every ward to dish out presents, chat to patients and their families, pose for photos and sign autographs.

Liverpool Football Club's regular visits to Alder Hey are always full of fun and laughter but are often poignant too for those involved - and this latest visit was no different.

Steven Gerrard said: "I have been visiting Alder Hey for many years now and it is such a special place. Our visit is always a day of mixed emotions but it's always nice to meet the children and their families and create as many smiles as we can.

"It's important to the players and the club to give something back and provide positivity to our young fans, many of whom are facing tough times."

Watch the video here »

Brendan Rodgers added: "Our Christmas visits to Alder Hey are always very special and memorable. It's a privilege for the team to have the opportunity to meet with the children and their families to show their support. 

"It's great that our visit can bring so much happiness to those that need a little lift, which is very important to me, the players and the club."

Irene Axon, of Alder Hey Children's Charity, added: "It was lovely welcoming Liverpool back to Alder Hey today. Everyone at Alder Hey looks forward to their visit at Christmas time and I'm sure our children enjoyed meeting their heroes.

"On behalf of Alder Hey I would like to thank Brendan and all the players of Liverpool FC for spending time with our patients and families and brightening up their day."