Image copyright Ash Donelon/MUFC Image caption Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer met the mascots before the game

An 87-year-old mascot was among 11 who were the oldest by decades to ever walk out on the pitch for Manchester United.

The local fans, aged between 61 and 87, greeted the players before the game with Watford at Old Trafford as part of a campaign to highlight loneliness.

It follows gestures honouring elderly supporters by Manchester City, Burnley and Swedish club AIK.

United's director of partnerships Sean Jefferson said they wanted to encourage fans to speak to older people.

"Any small gesture and interaction can play a part in helping to help tackle loneliness amongst our older generation," he said.

Image copyright PA Media Image caption The mascots greeted captain Harry Maguire and the team as they stepped on to the pitch

More than two million people over the age of 75 live alone in the UK, according to Age UK.

The choice of elderly mascots, who have received support from the charity, is part of Cadbury's "Donate Your Words" campaign, which is encouraging people to "make a difference to the lives of older people", a firm spokeswoman said.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham added: "Loneliness is much closer to home than many people realise, and any actions like these to raise its profile is a big step in the right direction."