CONFIDENT Aldershot Town assistant boss Stuart Cash believes the Shots will have the meanest defence in the league this season after finally completing the signing of Anthony Charles — if two more transfer targets come to the fore.
Cash made his bold statement after following up the deal to land Hayes youngster Charles on Thursday night with bids for two experienced Football League defencemen, which could be complete by the middle of this week.
And that, coupled with the signings of Jason Cousins and Dean Hooper, will surely help ensure Aldershot Town as a water-tight outfit this coming season.
In the absence of boss Terry Brown, Cash has been hard at work in scouring the transfer market in a bid to start a new era at the club with a title-winning side — work which is certainly starting to pay dividends.
After spending half a season with Brown at Hayes last year, 21-year-old Charles became the manager's first target when making the switch to the Rec in March.
Now the boss has finally got his man, although problems with agreeing a final fee with Hayes, may still arise.
Cash said: "Anthony is an Aldershot player and we are delighted to have him on board.
"We've done everything we needed to do but Hayes haven't yet agreed, so if the fee goes to a tribunal then so be it.
"We have tracked Anthony for some time because we believe he will give us a great balance in the back line and will be a great signing for the future, especially with him training with us full time.
"He is a tall, left-sided centre half, left-footed and very quick. He is also a good passer of the ball and commanding in the air.
"Anthony spent two years at Crewe with Dario Gradi, where he progressed through the ranks as a result of good coaching. He will be a great addition to the squad, especially with the likes of Jason Cousins and hopefully two other experienced players there to guide him.
"Anthony has been training with us for the last couple of weeks and has already proved to be one of the front runners, he's fit, lean and desperate to do well for Aldershot Town."
While the deal, under the Bosman Ruling, is done and dusted, Hayes have still failed to agree to the fee for Charles, so an FA tribunal looms over the next couple of weeks.
Charles was offered re-engagement by Hayes at the end of his term, but the player has taken them up on a clause in his contract which states he can leave Church Lane for a certain amount.
Aldershot have offered that four-figure amount, so with Charles finally putting pen to paper on Thursday night, it means he is now officially an Aldershot player.
The FA have written to Hayes to ask them to agree, if they don't, the overall fee will be decided at Soho Square.
But with Charles done and the other two imminent, Cash is confident that this could herald the start of a new era at the club.
He said: "If you look at any successful side, they are all built on a solid foundation, and that is what we are trying to do here.
"You win the league by being based on a solid back three, four or five with a solid goalkeeper, and by keeping clean sheets.
"Winning 1-0 or 2-0 is more satisfying than winning 3-2 or 4-3 — clean sheets are vital to any title challenge.
"If we get these two other players, I would stick my neck out and say we would have the meanest defence in the league.
"With Anthony on board along with Dean Hooper and Jason Cousins, I can't see many attacks finding them easy to break down."
Elsewhere, Aldershot Town have confirmed that Grant Payne has left the club to train with former club Woking.
Payne signed for the Shots from the Cards in a record £20,000 deal in November 1999, scoring four goals on his debut against Enfield.
But depite his obvious talent, Payne's plight at the Rec was hampered by a long-term knee injury, prompting new boss Terry Brown to monitor his fitness levels before signing him up on a new deal.
Payne was offered the same deal by Woking boss Geoff Chapple and has decided to accept that instead.
Cash said: "With his knee situation and deterioration of his injury, we could not guarantee offering Grant a new contract.
"Woking offered him the same as we did and he has chosen to take them up on it. There is absolutely no hard feelings, and we wish Grant all the best with Woking."
Aldershot Town FC held a successful trial match at Bourley Road on Saturday, watched by over 100 fans.
The Shots first team took on a mixed eleven of 16 trailists, PASE players and youth teamers in an entertaining run-out.
Of the 16 trailists, Justin Cochrane (pictured above), recently released by Queens Park Rangers, has been invited back for pre-season training.
Cochrane is a 20-year-old 6ft right-sided midfield man, who captained the successful QPR Academy under 19 side in the 2000/01 season.
That year also saw him make his first team debut for the Hoops in the final game of the season against Stockport County, although he was sent off just 20 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
The striker front is also busy with two key targets due to make a decision to sign after training this week.