DETERMINED Aldershot Town boss Terry Brown has admitted he is monitoring the Farnborough Town situation "very closely" as he looks to finalise his squad for the premier division title run-in.
Brown watched from the stands as Boro drew against Hereford United on Tuesday night, and may well make an official move for the Piper brothers of Lenny and Chris - crowd favourites at Cherrywood Road, and an integral part of their recent success.
But Brown is well aware that by entering into negotiations with the Pipers, he may well be joined by several other interested observers with Dagenham & Redbridge and St Albans both keeping tabs on Lenny in particular.
Brown said: "We are obviously interested in both the Piper brothers, however, we have had no contact with them or with Farnborough because they have needed a week to settle themselves down. "I will be speaking to somebody at Farnborough though, just to clarify what the situation is there.
"It may well be in their advantage, wage wise and salary wise to get certain players off the books because next year they will never be able to balance the books in the same manner that they have done with Graham Westley being there.
"We would love them both, but obviously wage-wise, I am stretching the board to the limit, so there would have to be one or two changes made to bring them in. There is no doubt, however, that they are two top quality players that we would like to see at the Rec."
Brown has also been linked to other Boro exiles Nathan Bunce and Danny Carroll, but Brown has had no contact with either player and, in the case of Bunce especially, the rumours look a non-starter.
Despite his obvious interest in events down the road, Brown is in no hurry to jump the gun.
Nine points clear at the top of the table, things are going swimmingly at the moment, but one final push may be needed if the Shots are to fulfil their dreams and finally make the grade to Conference football.
The good news for Brown is that at least one new player will be making his debut this week. Steve Perkins has signed Ryman forms for the Shots, and despite not having played for ten weeks, is ready to show the boss just what he can do.
Perkins, the former Woking midfielder recently released by Dagenham, was expected to get a 45-minute run-in in the game against the Combined Services as the News went to press on Wednesday night.
Brown commented: "I've known Steve for about eight years now and he is a quality Conference midfield player who has great ability on the ball, has physical presence, and can also score goals. I'm not expecting him to rip up trees for me on Wednesday night but it will be nice to see him show us his talents."
Perkins was due to join up with the rest of the first team squad for the Combined Services match, while Paul Moody, Jamie Taylor and Adam Parker travelled to Fleet Town with the reserves in the Aldershot Senior Cup on Tuesday night, as they looked to gain valuable match practise.
Brown has also issued an incentive for his goal-shy strikers to grab a first team shirt as he goes into the clash with in-form Bedford Town on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Only Roscoe D'sane is guaranteed himself a start while Moody, Taylor, Lee Charles and Stafford Browne have all looked slightly off-colour in recent weeks.
Charles' two-goal strike against Eastleigh in the Hampshire Senior Cup last Tuesday, probably puts him in the frame to join D'sane up front, as Browne looks to end a run of just one goal in nine starts.
No such problems for Brown at the back, however. His defence are looking stronger than ever, having conceded just one goal in the last four league outings.
New signing Ray Warburton has more than contributed to that - he is already building up an understanding at the back with Dominic Sterling.
Bedford, though, will be no push-overs. New manager Kevin Wilson has guided them out of the relegation zone and into a safe mid-table spot with a run of nine-matches unbeaten.
The Eagles also have a recent defensive record to beat that of Aldershot's, with no goals conceded in their last four league matches, while they have already beaten Purfleet and Canvey Island this season.
Brown concluded: "Kevin Wilson has done a fantastic job there and we are expecting a very tough game on Saturday. We need to be strong and very careful."
l Canvey Island are now Aldershot's main title rivals after they moved into second in the table on Tuesday night following their impressive 4-0 home win over Basingstoke. They are seven points behind the Shots, while St Albans could only draw 0-0 at home to Enfield and they lie third a further point behind.