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By ESPN Staff
May 24, 2006

Liverpool hopeful over new Gonzalez work permit

Liverpool will formally make a second application next week for Chile's Mark Gonzalez to be granted a work permit.

The 22 year-old, who has been loaned out to Real Sociedad since New Year, plays for his country against the Republic of Ireland tonight and hopes to be allowed to join the Liverpool squad when they start pre-season training.

A year ago Liverpool had their bid for a permit rejected, largely because Chile were then outside the top 70 in FIFA's rankings.

But the Department of Education and Employment were also concerned that Gonzalez was suffering from a bad knee injury at the time and the proposed deal was only a season-long loan because of that.

Gonzalez would not have been able to go straight into the first-team squad, but the decision enraged boss Rafael Benitez, who had tied up a potential £4million deal with Albacete. An appeal was also rejected.

Now Gonzalez has figured prominently in Sociedad's successful fight against relegation from La Liga and scored against Real Madrid to crown an impressive few months with the Basque club.

Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said: 'There are many different factors this time.

'Firstly, we're signing Mark on a permanent deal, whereas a year ago it was initially a one-season loan.

'He's also fully fit having recovered from the serious injury he had this time last year, and Chile have also broken into the world's top 70 in the FIFA rankings. We'll be making the new work permit application on June 1.'

Liverpool have had several offers from Spanish clubs to take Gonzalez on loan, but have stuck to their original plan with Benitez adamant the youngster can make a big impact on the Premiership.

They are taking nothing for granted, though, and Gonzalez is still pursuing his application for a Spanish passport which would allow him to play in the UK without a work permit.