THE winners of this year's Orphanage Cup and the Blackburn Combination champions will play each other to raise funds for a player who broke his neck in a sickening accident last week.

United Utilities goalkeeper Philip Sunderland cracked bones in his neck during last week's Orphanage Cup tie against Heritage Envelopes after an accidental clash with his own defender.

Sunderland, who has two young children, was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital were his condition is described as 'stable'.

But the foreman from Standish is expected to by in hospital for three months.

Peter Bush, secretary of the Orphanage Cup, said the incident has shocked the local football community.

He said: "We have never had anything like this happen before in the competition and everyone is in a state of shock. I am very upset and basically gutted for Philip, his partner and two young children. It just goes to show that something like this could happen to anyone. "Philip's recovery is going to be a long, slow process but we wish him all the best."

Mr Bush is now calling on the footballing community to rally around to support the player who is also a keen rally car driver.

The fund-raiser between the Orphanage Cup and the newly crowned Combination winners Mill Hill will take place at the Anchor Ground, Darwen FC on Friday, May 23.

He added: "I would like to thank Darwen FC for giving us the ground for free and all the referee and assistants."

Gary Bush, who runs the United Utiltities team, said that everyone who works with Philip says they are stunned by the injury.

He said: "It was something and nothing. Our defending John Boyle was chasing a ball back towards our goal and collided with Phil as he came out to pick it up. Both were injured and needed treatment."

Gary said is wasn't until afterwards that they learnt of the extent of the goalkeeper's injuries. "To be honest, we thought he was trying to pull a fast one. But we later learnt from the paramedics that an inch either way and the injury could have been a lot worse. I suppose the only good thing for Phil is that work will look after him. Had he worked for a smaller firm he may not have been so fortunate."

The fund raising match now means the Orphanage Cup semi final and final dates have been changed. The first semi final will take place on Wednesday, May 7 with the second semi final to take place on Friday, May 9. The final will take place on Friday, May 16.

Anyone who would like to help raise funds for Philip Sunderland should contact Peter Bush on 01254 693856.