Oxford United players will be keeping the Oxford Children’s Hospital close to their heart when they step out against Lincoln City at the end of the month.

Players will wear special shirts emblazoned with the campaign’s Chox logo across their chest for the match at the Kassam Stadium on April 30.

They hope to raise thousands of pounds for the children’s hospital by auctioning the one-off shirts.

The Football League allows a club to replace their sponsor’s emblem with that of their chosen charity for one match each season, and it is the first time the club has ever replaced a main sponsor’s logo.

Oxford United chairman Kelvin Thomas said the team was proud to raise awareness for the hospital, which was built thanks to a multi-million pound campaign backed by the Oxford Mail.

He said: “The Children’s Hospital is the club’s chosen charity and we are delighted to offer our support to them.

“We have never replaced our sponsor’s logo for a match before and we hope to raise awareness and valuable funds for the hospital and help promote all the good work it carries out.

“Our players often visit the children and I know each and every one of them is proud to be associated with this gesture.

“We really appreciate our sponsors Bridle for allowing us to replace their logo for this match.”

Forward Tom Craddock and midfielder Ryan Burge met former patients and U’s fans Mya Harris, eight, and three-year-old Alan Randon to promote the fundraising game.

Mya, from Cowley, has spina bifida and has had a series of operations at the hospital throughout her life, including three in the past year, to improve her mobility.

Alan Randon, from Greater Leys, Oxford, has undergone surgery on his stomach at the hospital.

Mr Craddock said: “This is our club charity and the players are more than happy to offer their support.

“If we can help raise more money for all the hard work they do for the kids then that’s great. It’s a privilege to help out.”

Mr Burge added: “It’s really good to get involved in things that aren’t just about football.

“I like helping out and especially helping the children.

“If we can make them smile and enjoy life even more then that makes everyone here at Oxford United happier too.”

Last November, United raised more £2,050 for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal by selling the first team’s shirts featuring a poppy on the chest.

But the club is hoping for more this time.

Children’s hospital fund-raiser Penny Hambridge said: “We are thrilled that Oxford United is once again showing their commitment to the Oxford Children’s Hospital.

“The players regularly visit our young patients and the club has been a tremendous supporter of our fundraising over many years – we’ve even had the manager and chairman abseiling on our behalf.

“This exciting match will hopefully raise a large amount of money which will allow us to buy additional medical equipment and better facilities for the thousands of children we care for here.”

The shirts will be available to the highest bidder with all proceeds from the auction going directly to the Children’s Hospital. Details of how to bid will be released shortly.