STEVE Wignall has emerged as an early favourite to take over as new boss of Aldershot Town, claiming he'd be "silly and foolish" not to be interested in a return to the Rec.

In an emotional first interview over the weekend, Wignall reminisced about the days when he help set the club up from scratch ten years ago, while also paying tribute to those who have made it into the force it is today.

Wignall believes the Aldershot job is on par with the challenge handed to him at his previous club Doncaster, and said he would relish the opportunity of taking the Shots back into the Football League where they belong.

But in an action-packed week in the race for the vacant post, Wignall discovered he would be up against several other interested and high-profile names, which now includes former Millwall legend Keith Stevens.

Wignall said: "I vividly remember the days where I sat in the garden with Terry Owens and Graham Brookland trying to work out how we would literally build a club overnight.

"Starting from scratch was a very unique and satisfying experience for me and it led to some very happy memories. It also gave me an insight into the workings of a club and because of that, I feel I have progressed as a manager, as a coach and everything else.

"I left on good terms and I still have dealings with some of the people there at Aldershot, who are the right people needed to take the club forward.

"When you've been at a club nine years (six as a player, three as a manager), you just can't dismiss it. Aldershot's is the first result I look for on a Saturday evening and that will still be the case if I get the job or not."

Since Wignall left the club in 1995 he has become one of the most sought-after young managers in the game, helping Colchester to division two promotion and Doncaster recover from the depths of non-League obscurity back into the major force they are today.

Many believe his recent sacking at Belle Vue was unwarranted and premature, but that could just prove to be Aldershot's gain in the long run as the time is right for Wignall to win his way back into the game he loves.

He added: "I hate not being involved in football and was really disappointed not to have stayed on at Doncaster. I made them into a top six Conference club from the depths of relegation to the Unibond League, while the reserve team is riding high as the highest non-League team in the country.

"Aldershot is a very similar club to Doncaster because the expectancy is so high. I suffered the same as what George Borg did at Aldershot and it's important that the fans realise how difficult it is to get into the Conference these days. It can get to the stage if the expectancy is too high that the club can become unmanageable.

"Although Aldershot is the perfect platform for progression for these young managers, it would be very difficult for an inexperienced manager to come in and perform miracles straight away.

"Sometimes it takes a good six months or a year to grab a feel for a place and that's why people like Alex Ferguson have been so successful, because his club kept faith with him during difficult times.

"Aldershot have the people in charge who are prime examples of this. Karl Prentice, Terry Owens, Graham Brookland and many others have worked extremely hard to get the club in the position it is at present. They didn't jump ship and because of that the club is heading in the right direction.

"I've had six or seven great years since leaving Aldershot, as has the club. I'd be silly not to be interested in such a challenge. Aldershot has the infrastructure to be great again, after nine years there, if anyone knows the club, then it's me."

While Wignall's words of support will encourage his loyal army of supporters still perched on the Rec terraces, a number of other names are also beginning to emerge as the Friday deadline for applications approaches.

Last weekend the name of Keith Stevens emerged as another front runner, having enjoyed experience as a player and a manager in both the Football League and elsewhere.

Stevens is a Millwall legend having spent 25 years with the Lions, working his way up from the youth team set-up to first team manager.

He is currently in charge at nearby Doc Martens Leaguers Fisher Athletic, where he has re-shaped the side after last season's relegation from the premier division, into a position in the higher reaches of the eastern division.

Without admitting that he had already applied for the post, Stevens said: "I currently have a handshake agreement at Fisher, where the chairman and board know I am ambitious and will take the chance to go on and manager a bigger club eventually.

"Aldershot certainly fits that bill. It's a big club, has a great catchment area and people in and around non-League circles talk very highly of it.

"I remember my days of visiting Aldershot. It always had a great atmosphere, nice pitch and a determined feel about it. The job interests me very much."

Other names coming to the fore at this late stage is former Cambridge and Preston North End boss John Beck and Alan Devonshire, who saw the Shots snatch a late 2-1 victory over his Maidenhead side on Saturday.

Also, the name of Ian Porterfield continues to pop up. The ex-Chelsea boss who scored the solitary goal for Sunderland in the 1973 FA Cup final at Wembley, has just returned from a coaching stint in Trinidad & Tobago, lives locally still and is said to be keen on an immediate return to football.

One man no longer in the frame is Woking chief Geoff Chapple.

Chapple's future at Kingfield was in the hands of new owner Chris Ingram, but after the two men met late last week, he was subsequently offered a new three-year deal.