HAVE Hereford United lost their chance of getting a player into the England semi-professional side?

That may well be the case after the Bulls sold right-back Chris Lane, who had been a hot tip for an England call-up, to their Nationwide Conference rivals Southport last week for £12,500.

The 21-year-old, who was in his third season at Edgar Street, had gradually enhanced his reputation to the point that he was regarded by many observers as the best right-back in the Conference.

For the Bulls, who have never had a player selected for England, Lane represented their best hope of selection, although some feel that skipper Ian Wright has a chance.

But sadly, once again Director of Football Graham Turner has had his hand forced by matters beyond his control and sold a key player to settle an outstanding bill, as has happened several times over the last few years.

While the club's financial problems persist there's always the danger that their better players could be sold on to help ease the burden - and one wonders if highly-rated striker Gavin Williams could be the next departure.

Williams' reputation at Edgar Street has blossomed this season after a move up front, and he is currently the Bulls' leading scorer this season.

But if he does move on, Hereford will be hoping they can get a price that reflects his market value rather than a lesser fee as a quick fix.

For Lane, meanwhile, it's a move not only to a higher-placed club but also within reach of his Liverpudlian roots -- he was a former youth trainee at Everton before joining Hereford.

He marked his Southport debut with a goal in their 3-1 home defeat against Rushden and Diamonds on Tuesday. Lane didn't open his Hereford account until the start of this season!