CONCERN is growing for the future of once-popular Hampshire pub as its owner struggles to find a new landlord.

The Players pub in Totton has been shut for two years and remains deserted and boarded up.

Now locals fear the pub in Water Lane may never reopen.

But owner, the Wellington Pub Company, said it was determined it would operate as a local pub but was struggling to find someone to run it.

A spokesperson from the company said none of the previous applicants had “sufficient funds and experience”.

He added: “We are only marketing The Players as a pub and have turned down other alternative offers, such as a car hire firm which was interested.”

As previously reported when The Players closed, a Savills UK spokesperson said it would probably take between four and six months to reopen.

It was built in the 1930s to serve the growing number of homes springing up in the Water Lane and Hammonds Green area.

Totton East councillor, Arthur Davis, said: “It is a shame it has been closed for so long and I would love for it to re-open, as I used to go there and it was a community pub. ”

Alexander Brunsdon, a councillor for Totton East, said: “I have been there once and it needed updating, but it was reasonably priced. It is a shame for the people in the area that it has closed. It is unfortunate the pub trade is being crippled by rising prices.”

County councillor David Harrison said: “It is a great pity and I suppose it follows a national trend that pubs are finding it increasingly hard to survive. I do think you could say that all pubs play an important part in the community.”

Jaki Bodley, who worked at The Players for ten years, applied twice to run the pub. She has managed other pubs in Hampshire, such as the Bittern, The Anchor and The Brass Monkey.

The 51-year-old said: “I live across the road from it and I see it every day.

I would love to go in there and run it.”