ALDERSHOT Town boss Terry Brown is on the verge of finally completing the signing of talented goalkeeper Richard Barnard.
Barnard, 23, has impressed the boss in training over the last couple of weeks and is expected to push Player of the Year Nikki Bull all the way for a first team place this season.
But it is his skills on the coaching side which will also benefit the club as Barnard will work with the Football in the Community Scheme on a Monday and Wednesday - helping to nurture youngsters into challenging him and Bully for a the No.1 shirt.
As the News went to press, Brown was waiting for approval from the board before completing the deal.
Fleet-based Barnard has spent the last two years as a thorn in Aldershot's side, making a number of fine performances against the Shots, playing for Maidenhead.
But the former Millwall apprentice has since run out of contract at York Road and has told boss Brown that he wants to be a part of Aldershot's Conference assault next season.
Brown, naturally, was all too willing to make that come true. He said: "I want a goalkeeper to push Bully all the way.
"Richard is a young, local lad who has played against Aldershot several times and done very well on each occasion.
"He is brave and strong and is also able to train on a Monday and a Wednesday which is very important to me as it helps with the continuity and the nurturing of the Football in the Community lads. He would be a good acquisition."
Barnard is set to join Tim Sills as Brown's two main additions to the squad, while Gareth Howells, Stafford Browne and Jason Cousins have left the club.
The Shots are, however, entertaining four trialists from Football League clubs and they are likely to be among a number of try-outs in the forthcoming pre-season friendlies.
Reading centre back Alex Theo continues to impress Brown with his defensive qualities, while Paul Thornton, from Chelsea, could prove to be good competition for Dean Hooper and Brett Cooper on the right hand side. Winger Sam Scully from Queens Park Rangers is another one in the frame for a few pre-season outings, as is Fleet-based Alex Haddow, also released by Reading.
Meanwhile, Brown's search for a midfielder is going slowly, although the boss is still hopeful that he can conclude a deal in the next week or so.
Brown has denied that Brighton midfielder Geoff Pitcher, who starred while on loan for Farnborough Town last season, is one of his targets, as wage demands would be a problem, while a move for Canvey Island's Jeff Minton has also been ruled out.
His two targets, however, are both hot on the heels of pursuing a career in the Football League and are waiting on the possibility of offers elsewhere but committing themselves to the Shots.