INJURY-PLAGUED Wrexham player Jim Whitley, who has started just 24 games in the past two seasons, has no plans to hang up his boots.
The popular 31-year-old, signed from Manchester City in October 2001, yesterday vowed to continue his career, but accepts his future probably lies away from the Racecourse.
A knee operation in March - his third in 24 months - put Whitley on crutches for the best part of nine weeks and he has only recently been able to walk unaided.
He said: "It's been the same problem throughout and it's been a nightmare because each time I thought the surgery had been effective I broke down again.
"This last time, though, the surgeon reckons he has solved the problem and the best way of describing the operation is that it was comparable to filling a hole in the road with Tarmac.
"I've just started doing some weights on my knee and I'm swimming a lot, but I'm not going to rush things because, first and foremost, I want to be sure the knee is
strong enough for me to play football for a sustained spell.
"Touch wood, there have been no worries so far and I'm hoping to be in a position to begin pre-season training."
Whitley will be returning to Wrexham's Colliers Park at the beginning of July, even though he has not been offered a new deal by Dragons boss Denis Smith.
"The gaffer has been great, to be honest," added Whitley. "With me having played only 20-odd games in the past two seasons he probably feels I'm injury-prone and that's understandable, but he has said I can come back to Wrexham for as long as it takes to get myself match-fit.
"I'm not sure at this stage whether I'll be able to train at full-stretch straight away in July so I'll take it one day at a time. The last time I came back last season I had a run of six or seven games and I was getting the pain again.
"I tried to play through it because I didn't want to tell the gaffer, but in the end I was just kidding myself, and that's not going to happen again.
"When I'm confident my knee is spot-on and that I can play my normal game, I'll let
him know and if there's nothing available at Wrexham, I'll start looking for another club.
"I'm quite happy to wait for as long as it might take and I'm pretty confident there will be a club out there for me.
"You only have to look at Paul Warhurst, who came to Wrexham midway through August last year and is now under contract at Barnet."
Despite his uncertain future, Whitley said he was delighted to hear that the Neville Dickens-led consortium was on the brink of buying the club.
"It's great news and I know a lot of the lads were waiting to hear what would happen before deciding on their plans," he said..
"I know Nev and his partners have a lot of plans for the club and in a strange way it's probably a blessing that Wrexham didn't go up through the play-offs this time round.
"Expectations would have been very high, but the new people now start with a clean sheet.
"They can go forward with the extremely realistic ambition of winning promotion next season."