Bruce left frustrated after Thomas deal fails

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The Independent Online

Wigan manager Steve Bruce has spoken of his frustration over the amount of red tape involved in signing foreign players after one of his main transfer targets was denied a work permit.

The club yesterday lost an appeal to allow 23-year-old Honduran midfielder Hendry Thomas, who plays for Olimpia in his homeland, to join them.

That decision annoyed Bruce, who is now back to square one in his search for reinforcements in central midfield, where he currently only has Michael Brown and Thomas's international team-mate Wilson Palacios.

"We are disappointed because we did our homework for Hendry Thomas, a midfielder who plays alongside Palacios on the Honduras team. We have worked so hard on that over the last three or four months, agreed a fee, been out to Miami, been out to Honduras and unfortunately he hasn't met the work permit criteria," said Bruce.

"We are absolutely devastated we didn't get that, we lost it on appeal yesterday. We had that one pencilled in as one of our midfield players so we will have to look again. You get all that done and because of a little red tape we have lost out."

Bruce said Thomas was not granted a work permit because he had not played the required number of matches for his country. However, the Latics felt they had a genuine case as Thomas is captain of Honduras' Olympic team, which is playing in Beijing next month, and had been playing mostly for that side.

Bruce added: "Because he played in the Olympic team, he didn't play in the national team. That ended up counting against him as it is not a [Fifa] registered competition like a World Cup."

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