'The Bachelor' : Hilary Duff to Guest Host Clayton's First Group Date of Season 26

Season 26 of The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC

clayton echard and hilary duff
Photo: John Fleenor/ ABC

Hilary Duff hopes to help Clayton Echard discover what dreams are made of on next week's episode of The Bachelor!

The How I Met Your Father star, 34, will guest host a portion of Monday's episode of the ABC reality show as Echard, 28, goes on his first group date of the season.

On the date, Duff joins the women vying for Echard's love as they prepare a Beverly Hills-style birthday party, according to ABC. Sparks eventually fly when one woman spends more time with Echard than the kids at the party.

In newly released photos from the day of the date, Echard and Duff appear deep in thought at times as they chat it up.

The former NFL player appears in a distressed blue button-down t-shirt and a pair of khaki shorts while Duff hosts in an off-white, thin-strap tank top with an asymmetrical hem lined with fringe, which she matched with a classic pair of skinny jeans.

clayton echard and hilary duff
John Fleenor/ABC

Season 26 of The Bachelor got off to a wild start on Monday, with two women leaving the show prior to the first rose ceremony. The first was Salley, who visited Echard's room to inform him that she was not ready to participate in the program, which began filming the weekend of what was supposed to be her wedding to her ex-fiancé.

Echard offered her a rose after telling her that he believes "there's definitely chemistry" between them. But Salley ultimately refused.

"The first rose that I have given out as the Bachelor was rejected," Clayton told the cameras after the rejection. "This is not the way that I was hoping to start my journey to find love."

Prior to Monday's season premiere, Echard indicated that he "did find love" as The Bachelor. "I was a little skeptical going into the whole journey," he said on Good Morning America, "but I'm so pleasantly surprised that things worked out much different than I thought. Again, I'm just so excited to watch it back and have everyone else watch it as well."

Clayton Echard
Clayton Echard. ABC/Pamela Littky

In an interview with PEOPLE, published Monday, Echard said he was "overwhelmed" by the process at times during filming, but ultimately let his heart do the talking.

"I was cautiously optimistic, but there were so many incredible women," Echard, 28, tells PEOPLE. "I just promised myself I would be transparent and not hold back. And I followed my heart."

Still, the former football player says he wasn't prepared to have intense feelings for more than one woman.

"I promised myself I wouldn't fall in love in love with multiple women but I fell in love with three," he says. "At that point I accepted it but I realized I was going to have to stop using absolutes. I handled it to the best of my ability. It wasn't perfect! I learned a lot of lessons. And that's life."

The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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