INJURY-HIT Wrexham keeper Andy Dibble has had the news he was dreading after a hospital scan yesterday revealed he has torn his thigh muscle a second time.
It means the South Wales-born shot-stopper will definitely miss the Dragons' big day out at the LDV Vans Trophy final at the Millennium Stadium next month.
And more worryingly for manager Denis Smith it means he will be without the experienced former international for the reaminder of a demanding season which includes nine matches in April.
"We've had the results already and it doesn't look good," admitted Smith.
"He's going back in next week for another scan but basically he can't do anything until then.
"He has torn his thigh muscle and that means with what's left of the season I can't see him coming back this season.
"It's very disappointing for him because as a Welshman it would have been great for him to be involved at Cardiff." The 39-year-old keeper has twice damaged the muscle this season, tearing it initially before suffering a recurrence.
The latest injury blow means Smith has only two fit custodians, on-loan Ben Foster from Stoke, and Football League rookie Paul Harrison from Hastings, available for a run of twice-weekly fixtures in April.
And the manager will be praying his five-strong international contingent emerge unscathed from duty with Wales under-21s and Trinidad & Tobago.
"The Under 21s lads are not so much of a worry because we should see them on Friday but I might not see the Trinidad players until Saturday," added a resigned Smith.
"We have had no reports from Trinidad but Carlos Edwards, Dennis Lawrence and Hector Sam might have played up to three matches during their time away because Trinidad had a warm-up game before the World Cup games.
"The fixtures we have to play mean I have no preparation time with the players between matches.
"With a game on Saturday I have no training work with my five internationals so that's means bringing the team in to train on Sunday and Monday because we are playing again on Tuesday. It's just not the way to do it.
"I'm all for internationals but I could do without them at the moment, I don't know who in their wisdom decided it would be a good idea to play international football at Easter but we are left to deal with it."
Utility man Jim Whitley is next under the knife, booked in for a knee operation today which will rule him out for the remainder of the campaign.
But there was a smattering of good news for Smith on the injury front with the manager giving Dean Bennett, Alex Smith and Danny Williams a run-out for the reserves last night after the trio returned to training with no adverse reaction. And Mark Jones is expected to be available for the visit of Bournemouth on Saturday.
* AMERICAN triallist Mike Werle scored on his debut for Wrexham Reserves against a Manchester United second string featuring Brazilian World Cup winner Kleberson and French striker David Bellion.
Werle, a centre-back from the Palm Beach Soccer Academy, scored the visitors' first equaliser in a 3--2 defeat for the Dragons.
A Paul McShane own goal accounted for Wrexham's other strike after a Dean Bennett cross.