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by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Everton's first-team squad paid its annual Christmas visit to Alder Hey Children's Hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

The players were accompanied by manager Roberto Martinez as they gave out gifts and passed on their best wishes to patients and their families, some of whom are set to spend the entire festive period on wards.

The world famous Alder Hey cares for around 200,000 children each year and has forged strong links with Everton, who also run numerous activities at the hospital through the Club's charity, Everton in the Community.

Everton at Alder Hey 2013

Martinez was making his first ever visit to the hospital and said it was vital to spread some much appreciated Christmas cheer.

"Alder Hey is one of the most important hospitals for children around Europe," he said. "We really appreciate their work and it's great for us to be able to bring the players and bring a bit of a smile and happiness to the patients, but also recognise the work that the staff are doing.

"Christmas is always a significant time, so it's great to have that time to share and meet with the fans."

Everton at Alder Hey 2013

Captain Phil Jagielka was also at the hospital in West Derby for the first time since taking over the skipper's armband in May and said he was proud to lead his players on what is an important day in the Everton calendar.

He said: "It's nice for the players to come to the hospital and try to cheer up a few families. It's not just about the sick children, but their parents and their brothers and sisters who have to go through a lot as well.

Everton at Alder Hey 2013

"It's great for them to mix with the boys, have their photos taken, get a few bits signed and it's warming just to see so many laughs and smiles."

After the hospital visit, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas headed to the Everton Two store in Liverpool One for the second of the Club's Christmas signing sessions, while the rest of the squad attended the FOREVERTON junior Christmas party in Goodison Park's Alex Young Suite.

Roberto Martinez

There the squad met with around 100 young Evertonians, posing for photos and signing autographs, while there was also a chance for the youngsters to try out EA Sports' FIFA 14.

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