Watford star Bangura will learn his fate next week

Last updated at 16:10 09 January 2008

Watford midfielder Al Bangura's fight to stay in the United Kingdom will be

resolved early next week after a work permit hearing was scheduled.

Bangura will travel with club officials to a hearing where six experts will

decide whether the 19-year-old should be given a permit to work in this country

in exceptional circumstances.

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Bangura (left) and Boothroyd

The panel will be made up of three Home Office officials and three football

experts who will judge the merit of his case as a footballer who can add to the

status of the professional game in this country.

A club statement read: "Following the concession from the Government, Watford

Football Club have been working hard to obtain and collate the documentary

evidence needed to display to the panel that Bangura's talent as a professional

is undeniable and that a return to Africa would all but end his career as a

top-class footballer.

"We hope to be able to bring news of the result of the panel's findings early

next week."

Bangura was refused leave to stay in the UK last month and was set to be

deported to his native Sierra Leone.

But after a meeting with Home Office minister Liam Byrne the club were handed

the unusual option of applying for a work permit.

Bangura's chances of obtaining a work permit would normally be slim as he is

uncapped and Sierra Leone are outside the top 70 nations in FIFA's rankings.

Labour MP Claire Ward was instrumental in persuading Byrne to schedule the

meeting and said last month: "Because Al wouldn't qualify automatically for a

work permit his case will be considered by an independent panel which will

include members of the Home Office and members of the football world.

"They will consider his track record and what he brings to the game and then

recommend to the Home Office whether he should be allowed to stay.

"It's a matter now for the panel to judge the sort of things that Watford fans

have been seeing over the last few seasons which is just how good Al is."

Bangura has yet to feature in the league this season after a succession of

injuries but made 16 appearances in the Premier League last season as the

Hornets were relegated.