TALENTED footballers will swap football boots for pedal power to do their bit for the NHS and their club.

Members of Prestonpans-based Preston Athletic’s squad are getting on their bikes for a special fundraiser, which will see them visit the homes of 21 football teams in East Lothian, Edinburgh and Midlothian.

Money raised will be split between the East of Scotland side and the NHS, as a thank you for the hard work of its staff.

The cycle, had been due to take place in June but was postponed to Saturday (August 1), was the idea of team-mates Kai Austin and Nathan Stokes.

Twenty-one-year-old Kai, who plays right back for the side, said: “A lot of clubs have been making signings and we knew Preston were struggling even to just keep going.

“I have seen where someone has cycled or driven to the 42 league grounds [in the Scottish Premiership to League Two].

“We thought maybe it would be a cool idea to do something like that at our level.

“We came up with a challenge to entice people to want to donate and will us on.

“We came up with visiting 20 grounds for 21 teams for the 2020/21 season.”

The teammates plan to start at New Countess Park, home of Dunbar United.

From there, it is on to Millfield (Haddington Athletic), Foresters Park (Tranent Juniors) and New Recreation Park (Ormiston).

The cyclists will then head into Midlothian and tick off King’s Park (Dalkeith Thistle), Newbattle Complex (Easthouses Lily), New Victoria Park (Newtongrange Star), Newbyres Park (Arniston Rangers), New Dundas Park (Bonnyrigg Rose), Ferguson Park (Whitehill Welfare) and Penicuik Park (Penicuik Athletic).

Then it is into the Capital for stops at Paties Road (Edinburgh United), Meggetland (Tynecastle), Saughton Enclosure (Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale), Christie Gillies Park (Civil Service Strollers), Ainslie Park Stadium (Spartans), St Marks Park (Craigroyston) and finally Peffermill (home of both Edinburgh University and Leith Athletic).

Finally, the weary cyclists will return to East Lothian and tick off Olivebank (Musselburgh Athletic) before reaching the finish line and familiar surroundings of The Pennypit (Preston Athletic).

In total, the cycle, which is about 130 kilometres (80 miles), is expected to take upwards of seven hours, with the players stopping for a photograph at each ground.

The fundraiser is also the latest step on the road to recovery for midfielder Nathan.

The 22-year-old missed the entire 2019/2020 season after a horror ankle injury in pre-season, which saw ligaments ripped off the bone.

Now, he is keen to get back to fitness ahead of the new campaign kicking off.

He said: “I have still been going to watch matches and getting the changing room banter.

“We are all in a group chat and a lot of the boys have been working on their fitness throughout lockdown.

“They have been out running or cycling and a lot of the boys are keen to get back to it and we are all missing it, especially myself.

“I am hoping to be back for next season.

“It has been a long hard battle to get back fit after surgery.

“It has been three months since surgery and the doctor and physio said it would be three to six months before I am back playing.”

Nathan, who previously played for Musselburgh Windsor and Ormiston, has played at most of the grounds but will tick off visiting Haddington, Newtongrange Star, Arniston Rangers and Civil Service Strollers during the cycle.

He was looking forward to the fundraiser and was pleased with the reaction from members of the public, with more than £700 already donated.

He said: “My mum is a carer, I’ve got family and friends who work in the NHS, so it is a no brainer to be honest.

“Myself and Kai said we should half the money with the NHS. The work they are doing just now is remarkable.”

To support the club, go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/prestonathletic