WREXHAM defender Brian Carey is resigned to watching next month's LDV Vans Trophy final from the stands of Cardiff's Millennium Stadium - and he could be joined by goalkeeper Andy Dibble.
The veteran keeper is facing up to another spell on the sidelines after suffering a recurrence of a thigh muscle injury 30 minutes into last night's 5-1 reserve-team defeat to Chester at Plaskynaston Lane.
The setback means Dragons manager Denis Smith will this morning attempt to re-sign Hastings United stopper Ryan Harrison as cover for on-loan number one Ben Foster.
Harrison has only just returned to the Ryman League outfit having spent a month at Wrexham on non-contract terms during Dibble's injury lay-off.
Racecourse club captain Carey, meanwhile, is to undergo fresh keyhole surgery in a bid to cure a long-standing knee injury and admits that he probably won't play again this season.
But his obvious disappointment at missing out on Wrexham's first-ever appearance in a major final is tempered by optimism that the operation will prolong his career until he is ready to call it a day.
Carey, who will be 37 in May, said: "I saw the consultant again on Monday and he has recommended new keyhole surgery but he was very optimistic that when it's been done I should be able to carry on playing.
"It's very unlikely that I'll be playing again before the end of the present season but the consultant was very positive about the longer term, which is what I wanted to hear.
"Missing the LDV Vans final is just one of those things but, to be honest, I would not have expected to play anyway. The lads have done well and they reached the final without me, so it would be unfair if any of them had to make way.
"The most important thing for me is that I want to be able to continue playing and I want to do that for as long as possible.
"I didn't want this injury to make the decision for me and I'm not rushing into anything, so it's a case of waiting to see how things go."
The former Republic of Ireland international, who hasn't played since October, said his future plans were linked to some extent with what the future holds for Wrexham as the club's precarious financial and ownership issues remain unresolved. "Like everyone else I'm waiting to see what happens at Wrexham," he added. "Time seems to be running out but it's vital that the club can get itself back in order.
"The LDV Vans final is going to be a fantastic and enjoyable day out for the players, management, staff and supporters and is a huge reward for everyone connected with the club.
"But that cannot hide the fact that the most important goals are that Wrexham stay in League One this season and that the club itself survives to be playing in the Football League next season."
* JAMIE REED scored Wrexham's consolation in last night's Pontin's League defeat to Chester. Striker Chris Armstrong was forced to play in goal once Dibble limped off.