ALDERSHOT Town boss Terry Brown believes he has "two of the best young goalkeepers in the country" after finally securing the services of former Millwall trainee Richard Barnard.

Brown claims the two keepers vying for his No.1 shirt in the Conference next season, are the strongest combination possible at this level, and has high hopes that they can spearhead the team to Play-Off challenge.

The club's current No.1, Nikki Bull, was the popular choice for Player of the Year last season after a string of fine displays, and represents a tough nut to crack for any young shot-stopper who attempts to dislodge him.

But if anyone can, it's the Fleet-based Barnard, who earned many admirers himself during his two seasons at Maidenhead United.

Brown said: "We have completed the signing of Richard and I'm naturally delighted about that because he is a very strong and able goalkeeper.

"We are more than happy in the goalkeeping department now, in fact I believe I've got two of the best young goalkeepers in the country."

Elsewhere, however, things are going pretty slowly for the patient Brown, who is currently involved in negotiations to bring in a whole new spine to his side.

The right-sided centre half slot, left vacant by Jason Cousins, who has reportedly joined Windsor & Eton, looks to be filled by former Reading reserve teamer Adam Theo, who continues to impress in training and is set to be unleashed in the pre-season matches.

The central midfield slot is more complex and Brown is currently in talks with two or three potential signings about filling that important role.

Rumours are flying around the Rec all the time as to who heads Brown's shopping list, and after denying interest in both Jeff Minton and Geoff Pitcher this last week, Brown has now laid to rest a third theory - Grays' former Ipswich Town playmaker Adam Miller.

"There is no doubt that Adam is a good player but we have not made any approach to him as he's not quite what we need at the moment," he added.

The striking situation basically centres around the budget required to keep highly-impressive Aaron McLean at the club, which Brown is trying desperately to do.

McLean's agent has been busy on his player's behalf, trying to keep him in the professional game - a dream not necessarily motivated by money.

After his six goals for the Shots during the latter end of the season when on loan from Leyton Orient, McLean raised a few eyebrows and will not be short of offers as he looks to re-ignite his career and Brown will have to be at his persuasive best to lure the 21-year-old hitman back to the Rec for another season.

Brown's main priority now, however, is the commencement of full training on Tuesday, when he hopes to have a group of around 24 players vying for a place in the first team squad.

The four-day week for some signals the start of a whole new era for the club but Brown does not envisage any new faces to feature in these sessions at this stage until the pre-season campaign is well underway.

l Aldershot Town have added another pre-season friendly to their schedule by announcing that they will travel to Brown's hometown team, Wokingham Town, on Monday July 21 (ko 7.45pm).

The match, which was arranged as part of the deal to bring Stuart Tanfield to the club, will be played at Egham FC.