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FOOTBALL: Icing on the cake; Dibble targets cup win for perfect birthday.

Byline: MARK CURRIE Chief Sports Writer

WREXHAM goalkeeper Andy Dibble is hoping to celebrate his 38th birthday on Thursday with a winner's medal in the FAW Premier Cup final,but could yet find himself watching the match from the stands.

The former Welsh international revealed yesterday he had carried an injury into the Dragons' final league game of the season at Bury and,much as he wants to play against Newport County in the televised Racecourse clash (6.55pmkick-off),he is anxious to do nothing that might aggravate the problem.

Dibble returned to action at Gigg Lane last Saturday, where Wrexham won 3-0, after missing the trip to Leyton Orient because of a slight groin strain and confirmed he was continuing to feel some discomfort.

``I can't say definitely either way whether I'll be fit or not,''he said. ``I didn't want to miss our last league match because I wanted to finish on a high note,but there is a slight strain there and I don't want to do any more damage.

``We'll have to see how it goes,but I have to admit it would be nice to celebrate my birthday with a cup final win and a medal.''

And Dibble, who was manager Denis Smith's first close-season signing following Wrexham's relegation to the Third Division 12 months ago, is hoping to extend his stay at the Racecourse for another couple of years.

The ex-Stockport County man, released by the Edgeley Park club last summer,played 33 league games during the successful promotion campaign and confirmed he is keen for another crack at the Second Division.

``I've spoken to the manager and chairman to tell them I would be happy to stay and the feedback seems pretty positive,''he added.``Hopefully,it won't take long for me to put pen to paper on a new deal and I want to play until I'm 40.

``I look at Dave Beasant down at Brighton and he's five years older than me. I still enjoy playing and, since I've been here at Wrexham, I've also enjoyed working with the younger goalkeepers.

``The gaffer has been great in that he lets us go off in training to do our own thing and leaves me in charge.I'm currently getting my coaching badges out of the way because I would like to stay on in the game as a goalkeeping coach in the future.''

Dibble believes the current squad can make an impact in the Second Division next season. ``Wrexham should be in the Second Division at the very least and there's no reason why we shouldn't aspire to go even higher,'' he said.

``I was at Stockport and the facilities there simply don't compare to what we have here. As a result of the successful season we've had everyone is singing from the same hymn-sheet and,hopefully, we can make another realistic promotion challenge next year.

``If we can keep this squad together and maybe bring in one or two players I don't think that would be beyond us. And I think the supporters would turn out in numbers as well,as recent gates at the Racecourse have shown.''

CAPTION(S):

Veteran Dragons keeper Andy Dibble, who celebrates his 38th birthday on Thursday, is hoping to stay at the Racecourse for at least another two years and highlights 43-year-old Brighton keeper Dave Beasant as his inspiration
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 6, 2003
Words:564
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