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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 19, 2009

Wigan await permit news for new Korea move

Wigan manager Steve Bruce is keeping his fingers crossed red tape will not scupper his bid to sign South Korea midfielder Cho Won-hee.

The 25-year-old has impressed during a trial with the Latics this week after his contract with Korean side Suwon Bluewings expired.

Wigan have now submitted a work permit application but it is not certain of going through as Cho has not featured in the required 75% of international matches due to injury.

Bruce has encountered problems with the system before, losing out on Honduras midfielder Hendry Thomas last summer.

On that occasion the player did not meet the criteria because he had played for his country in Olympic qualifiers instead of full senior international matches, despite being a regular in the national side prior to the Beijing build-up.

Cho has played 27 times for South Korea but Wigan face an anxious wait to discover whether his recent injury problems will count against him.

"We have known all about him because he has played in the Korean team, which is a very decent team, and he is typically Korean in terms of his athleticism and his work-rate,'' said Bruce.

"The problem we have got is the work permit criteria because, unfortunately, he missed a big chunk of the international games. About 10 months ago they had six qualifying games in the space of a month and he missed the lot of them because of injury.

"We have weighed that up and will put our case to them on Monday and hope we can get him in them. It (the criteria) stands in our way because it would be a damn sight easier without it.

"There are rules and we have to abide by them but it has become a bit of a problem.''

Bruce has brought in a number of players from Central and South America in the last year but he stressed the club could not afford to take their eye off opportunities elsewhere.

And although he would like to buy British, the Latics boss said the opportunities were not there.

"We work extremely hard and we've got to. I would love to sign six or seven Lee Cattermoles (bought from Middlesbrough for £3million in the summer),'' he added.

"You find me them in this country where I can buy 20-year-olds for £3million then I'd willingly do that, but we obviously can't so we have to spread the net a bit further and be adventurous.

"I don't mind where they are from. Certainly the Koreans we have seen in the Premier League have a fantastic appetite for it and in that respect he will not let himself down.

"We just hope he meets the criteria and we can bring him in.''

Cho's agent confirmed a deal had been agreed with Wigan and they were just waiting to see if the paperwork could be formalised.

"Everything is done,'' Kim Dong-ho told The Korea Times. "We heard that Wigan was looking for a midfielder. They need a good midfielder and we need a big league - that made the deal possible.''

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