Watford delight after Bangura wins work permit

The Watford midfielder Al Bangura has won his appeal to stay in the United Kingdom after being awarded a work permit at a hearing yesterday .

The 19-year-old Bangura was refused leave to stay last month and was set to be deported to his native Sierra Leone. But, after a meeting with the Home Office Minister Liam Byrne, the club were handed the unusual option of applying for a work permit.

A six-strong committee made up of three Home Office officials and three football experts met in Sheffield and decided that Bangura was a player who could add to the status of the professional game in this country.

After hearing evidence from the Watford manager, Aidy Boothroyd, and the former academy director and first-team coach, David Hockaday, the panel took two hours to make its decision.

"We always knew we had a strong case and we knew we had to fight for what we believed to be right for this young man," said the Watford chairman, Graham Simpson . "Al will now continue to contribute to our society, which I know he feels a debt of gratitude towards. I would like to thank the Watford fans, whose backing of Al has been so crucial to securing his immediate future in the UK."

Bangura became a father last month and is closing in on a return to fitness after missing the whole season so far with a broken arm and an ankle injury.