TERRY Brown has refused to comment over strong rumours that he is the man to take over the reigns as manager of Aldershot Town this Saturday.

The Hayes chief has emerged as the strong favourite to be unveiled by chairman Karl Prentice prior to the home game with Sutton, but is naturally keeping tight-lipped about his long-term future, only to say he was ‘flattered' by the stories.

Brown takes his struggling side to Doncaster Rovers on Friday night — a co-incidental fixture date which could lift the lid on one of the best kept secrets in non-League football.

He said: "I am the manager of Hayes and I have no other comment to make. My next priority is Doncaster on Friday night.

"It's been very hard at Hayes this season. We haven't got a millionaire owner or anything like that and it's becoming increasingly difficult to compete with those who have.

"This is my ninth season at the club and I have a great deal of respect for everyone here.

"I am flattered, however, that some people are considering me for what I believe is one of the highest profile clubs in non-League football."

After a playing career at Hayes (twice), Slough and Wokingham Town, Brown, 49, made the progression into management in November 1993.

And in the eight and a quarter years in charge of Hayes, he has turned the Middlesex side into a consistent force in top-flight football.

After finishing third in the Isthmian premier division in his first full season in charge, Brown then celebrated promotion to the Conference in his second — a position which they still hold today.

This is Brown's sixth season with the Missioners in the top flight with his best season being the third place finish achieved in season 1998-99.

Brown is renowned as a manger who survives and succeeds on a water-tight budget, although, sadly, this season could well be a bridge too far.

Hayes are currently second from bottom in the Conference table and after just managing to beat the drop last season, relegation fears are upon them once more.

Shots chairman Karl Prentice has also played down the rumours prematurely linking Brown with the vacant position.

He added: "We are still interviewing. As you [the News] go to press we have four people — one being Stuart Cash — to talk to before naming the new man in time for Saturday — if all goes to plan.

"To be honest, I want to get it out of the way. It has been a very traumatic couple of months for all of us at the club and we just want to get things back to the way they were ten years ago to get that buzz back.

"What people don't realise is that we all have day jobs as well and have been very busy in doing our best for the club. It hasn't been easy but judging by the four people left in for interview, we can guarantee an exciting appointment."

If Brown is to be the new man for Aldershot, the next question would be as to what capacity.

Brown is currently full-time at Church Road and a continuation of that status would make him the club's first ever full-time manager.

It is also believed that caretaker boss Cash will remain as Brown's right hand man, although he too has denied a rumour that he has recently signed a new two-year contract.

Indeed, if it was a full-time manager that the board specifically required, then that is likely to rule Cash out of the equation anyway.

Cash continued: "I've heard rumours that the chairman and I have sat down and signed a two-year deal, that is not true.

"I don't know what's happening because the only contact I've had with the chairman is on football matters although I think I'm seeing him this week sometime.

"Whether the decision is to appoint me or anybody else, I will go along with it. I love this club and want to stay whether it be in this capacity or in another role and as long as I feel it is for the good of the club then I would be happy with it.

"I hear rumours all the time and wouldn't like to comment on any one of them in respect of the chairman and the board of directors."

Despite the rumours sweeping around the Rec, Cash's job is to focus the team for the visit of Sutton United, (ko 3pm) even though he realises that he may not be in the manager's hotseat for Saturday.

This is a big game for Cash after Saturday's 1-1 draw at Hampton and with Sutton slowly improving and making the climb towards the higher reaches of the premier division table.

It is also a big game for four of the men likely to be involved on Saturday. Strikers Mark Watson and Scott Forrester, goalkeeper Gareth Howells and midfield man Paul Harford all used to turn out in the rather distinctive colours of Sutton and will be looking to put one over their former team-mates, especially after suffering a 2-0 reversal at Gander Green Lane back in October.

The good news for Cash is that Howells is now fully recovered from ankle and knee problems and will contend the goalkeeper's jersey with Steve Collis, who has just a week of his month-long loan period left before re-joining Yeovil.

Harford, who missed Tuesday night's Ryman League Cup semi-final draw with Hampton & Richmond, will face a late fitness test, while Owen Coll and Mark Bentley have both fully recovered from their recent injury problems.