A NUMBER of high-profile players — including a current international — will be turning out for Aldershot Town in the next few days as boss Terry Brown looks to finalise his squad for the season ahead.
The influx of professional stars are expected to don the red and blue in Aldershot's first taste of football action this summer, at the Kingstonian two-day pre-season tournament.
Brown and his assistant Stuart Cash have been hard at work these last few weeks, inviting a number of triallists and out-of-contract players to training, and as the season's start draws near, time is running out for the management duo to select a title-winning side.
Leading the new brigade is Northern Ireland international Phil Gray — a striker with a high class CV.
Whether it be Sunderland, Luton Town or Oxford, Nancy in the French League and Fortuna Sittard in Holland, Gray, 33, has scored goals where ever he has gone, while showing the kind of professional attitude to the game that every manager dreams of.
Gray, who has 26 Irish caps, has been released by Oxford boss Mark Wright, and although he is not likely to be ready for the tournament kick-off on Saturday against Brentford or finals day on Sunday, he is expected to lead the front line for the trip to Yeading on Tuesday night.
Also expected to play at some point, probably at the weekend, is long-term target Alvin Bubb.
The lively Bristol Rovers striker was on the verge of signing for Brown two weeks ago but opted instead to cling onto an opportunity of staying in the league game but taking up a trial with Sheffield United.
Once his weekend is over, Bubb, 21, will return to Bramhall Lane, but such is Brown's faith in this tricky wide man, an offer of a contract will be on the table.
Brown's next high-quality possibility is defender David Greene — a legend at Colchester United before he was surprisingly released.
Greene scored 15 goals for United last season from centre back and is in the midst of a transfer scramble, but states he wants to play for Aldershot. His fitness is an issue but his quality certainly isn't.
Other names, easily recognisable to Shots fans, are also likely to feature.
David Howells, the former Tottenham and Southampton star and brother of goalkeeper Gareth, will be given a run-out, possibly on the Sunday, but he too will have to prove his fitness to Brown.
Howells, who turned out for local Combined Counties outfit Hartley Wintney last year, has been running a coaching school in Spain and wants to prove he has shaken off a long-term knee injury.
No surprise to some, given his relationship with the manager, but Lee Charles — a transfer target for years so it seems — will finally run out in the red and blue, possibly even leading the attack for the Brentford game alongside Roscoe D'sane.
Charles, a former England semi-pro international, spent happy times with Brown at Hayes before turning down an initial approach by the Shots to join Nuneaton Borough.
But the end of his time there has seen him head south and link up once again with Brown, although work has to be done before the talented striker can earn himself a deal.
Also likely to figure at some point is former Chelsea midfield man Mark Nicholls, who is coming down from Scotland to try his luck with the Shots for a second time after embarking on numerous trials and short-term deals last season.
Triallist Justin Cochrane from QPR, who impressed in last Saturday's trial match, and young striker Barry Dunne, taken on board from lower league Harefield, may also get run-outs.
And then there's the Belgians. Three have since become two, but they were due to arrive at the Rec as the News went to press and look likely to start their assault for a contract at the Rec with a place on the bench on Saturday.
Brown is likely to run with two separate teams for the two days with each of the 24 or 25 players in training at present, expected to play a part.
The Saturday game against an experimental Nationwide League division two side Brentford, kicks off at 11am and Brown is expected to name a side consisting mainly of contracted players like Jason Chewins, Lee Holsgrove, Richard Gell, Adam Parker, Dave Carroll and his summer signings to date.
Defeat in the Brentford game will see the Shots kick off at 11am again on Sunday against the losers of the Kingstonian/Darlington game.
Victory will see the Shots compete in the final at 3pm.
Meanwhile, Brown is still locked in talks with a top quality defender and hopes to seal his signature by the weekend. He is not expected to figure this weekend, however, although the sight of a mystery striker — one of a few surprises Brown has up his sleeve — will excite many.
Whatever happens, it's a weekend not to be missed.