CHRIS Beardsley is nearing a move to Mansfield Town but boss Stuart Watkiss still harbours hopes of retaining Mark Rawle.

Kidderminster Harriers wanted to secure the two out-of-contract strikers during the summer and their absence leaves Watkiss woefully short up front.

He admitted attack is an area for concern with just Iyseden Christie, who started only one game and did not score in an injury-plagued season during Harriers' relegation, on the books.

Beardsley, 21, seems certain to join his former club Mansfield, leaving the respective money men to agree a fee for the player as he is too young to leave on a Bosman transfer.

Rawle has also been keen to stay in the Coca-Cola League and the 26-year-old is spending at least a week at newly-promoted Barnet on trial in a bid to impress.

Watkiss said: "The chairmen are thrashing out a deal and it looks like Beardsley will be at Mansfield this season.

"Rawle wants to try his luck at Barnet and is very keen to stay in the League. He's been very honest with me and I don't have a gripe about a lad who's trying to better himself.

"If it doesn't go his way, then maybe we will see if we can get him back here. He would score goals in the Conference.

"It is the midfield and the strike-force we are lacking in now. But if we can get Christie anything like ready he will be an important player for us.

"He has lost a little bit of weight but he, more than anybody, has got a crucial four or five weeks in front of him."

Along with Rawle, several players interesting Watkiss are currently trying to impress clubs at a higher level but could end up becoming available to the Conference outfit.

Harriers are looking at two potential strikers on trial in teenagers Ryan Moss and Russ Penn, released by Bournemouth and Scunthorpe respectively.

And Watkiss wants to sign Exeter's Gareth Sheldon who is capable of playing through the middle as well as on the right wing.

He added: "I've spoken to Sheldon with Exeter's permission and I think he's very keen on the idea of joining so we will see how that pans out."

Harriers have completed the signing of ex-Aston Villa and Worcester City player Michael Blackwood, who can play anywhere down the left flank, on a 12-month deal.

Blackwood, released by Lincoln City after only playing 10 games in an injury-hit campaign, was at St George's Lane for the start of the 2002/03 season before moving to Stevenage.