Cancer fighter Bradley Lowery has been forced to pull out from his mascot role at tonight’s Middlesbrough vs Sunderland game because of “horrendous pain”, according to his family. The terminally ill five-year-old, who is battling neuroblastoma, was meant to lead out his beloved Sunderland tonight.

A spokesman for Middlesbrough Football Club told Gazette Live: “We were looking forward to seeing Bradley again and it’s sad he can’t be with us. We wish him all the best, our thoughts are with him, and hopefully he will be well enough to join us at another game in the future.”

Football fans from clubs across the country have come together to send well-wishes to Bradley, who has formed a close bond with Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe. Bradley – who has led out the Black Cats and England – was set to be at the Riverside tonight. But a statement from his family said: “Bradley is not good. He has been in horrendous pain with his leg since yesterday to the point he couldn’t move in bed last night … The doctor’s gut feeling is that it’s his cancer progressing but we need to wait and watch for a few days to see what happens.”