POOLE Town star Carl Preston will this week stake his claim for a return to the Football League ranks.

The former Cherries winger is today set to begin a three-day trial with Championship play-off contenders Reading.

Preston will link up with the Royals after being invited by the Madejski Stadium outfit, as revealed by the Echo last month.

The talented left-footer, who has also attracted the attention of Exeter City, is aiming to follow in the footsteps of former Poole team-mate Charlie Austin.

Striker Austin earned a move to Swindon Town – and subsequently Burnley – after shining for Dolphins in the Wessex League.

Preston featured twice in the league for Cherries under Jimmy Quinn before being released from Dean Court at the end of his apprenticeship.

But after joining his hometown club following a short spell at Weymouth, Poole-born Preston has been a key man in Dolphins’ recent success, scoring 34 goals in 105 appearances.

Poole boss Tom Killick revealed the Wessex League champions were pleased to see Preston get another opportunity.

Killick told the Echo: “I think Exeter are going to look to do something in pre-season. It is more likely he could play a game for them in pre-season.

“But he is going to Reading today for three days and I think he is playing in two trial matches.

“With any young player you have that wants to get into professional football, if they get opportunities you have to encourage it.

“What the club is very aware of is that Carl is someone we got for nothing. The Weymouth manager rang me and said things were not working out and would we be interested in taking him. I took him for free and if a pro club wanted to take him, we would be very pleased. We would lose a player but you have to look beyond that.”

Preston is under contract so the two clubs would need to agree terms if it came to that stage, but Killick admitted swapping the Wessex League for Championship football would be a “huge long shot”.

However, he is hoping Preston will arrive in Berkshire refreshed, despite playing his part in Dolphins’ hectic run-in.

He added: “He has played an awful lot of games in the past three or four weeks and he has looked jaded.

“We took him off on Saturday to try to give him a rest but, hopefully, a change of scenery and the fact it is all different will give him impetus.”