Bashley last night loaned their 33-goal top scorer Richard Gillespie to Salisbury City for the rest of the season - with a view to a summer sale.

With the New Forest club out of Ryman Division 1 play-offs contention, but in no apparent danger of relegation, manager Geoff Butler said it made financial sense to give the 20-year-old Romsey lad a chance to make his mark at a higher level.

Salisbury are keen to increase their frontline options for the fight against Ryman Premier relegation now that ex-Saint Adam Wallace has been transfer-listed.

The Whites made initial enquiries about Gillespie, pictured above, two weeks ago and have stepped up their interest after missing out on Basingstoke marksman Neville Roach.

Although Gillespie's exit is a bitter disappointment to Bashley fans, Butler insisted: "It will be good for Richard to play at a higher standard and show what he can do.

"The clubs have agreed a fee that will allow Salisbury to purchase him at the end of the season if they want to and it's up to Richard now to make the most of this opportunity.

"We wouldn't want to stand in his way of progressing but he knows that if he makes a pig's ear of it at Salisbury he'll be coming back to us next season. For his sake, I hope he does well there."

Bashley have already offloaded senior pair Mat Jones and Graeme Gee to help lighten the wage bill and Gillespie's departure would be another huge saving - particularly if they get a fee for him in the summer.

"Given our financial situation, it benefits Bashley because we'll save on his wages," said Butler.

"We don't feel we're going to get relegated because we're 20 points clear of the second to bottom club, so any money we can save this season helps towards next year."

Gillespie, who spent two years at the Southampton FC Academy, will be available for Saturday's game at home to Hampton.