Stoke City: Goran Popov has chance of resurrecting Potters move
GORAN Popov's on-off move to Stoke City could be back on again because he has a Bulgarian passport.
As Bulgaria is a member of the EU, the document allows Popov to enter England and reside here ... but not work.
For that, he needs permission from the UK Border Agency and the club is now awaiting an answer for his request.
That leaves Popov's proposed season-long loan move from Dynamo Kiev in limbo.
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But his hopes appear to have grown since last week when the 27-year-old left-back feared his dream move to the Premier League was heading for complete collapse.
The Macedonian international believed any application for a work permit would fail because his country has recently dropped in FIFA's world rankings to 102.
One of the FA's criteria for accepting players who require a visa to enter England is that their own country are ranked at 70 or better.
But the existence of a Bulgarian passport could help Popov by-pass those criteria if the UK Border Agency back his request to work.
Popov, who played against Stoke in the Europa League last season, has already trained with his prospective new club after arriving here 10 days ago determined to win his first crack at Premier League football. Speaking last week, when he believed the deal was heading for the rocks, he said: "I wanted to play against Arsenal, and also against Manchester City and Chelsea. I wanted to play against the big teams – this was my dream."
But with Popov's move still in doubt, Stoke may turn to the former Tottenham left-back Reto Ziegler as a possible alternative.
Reports from Italy claim Juventus are willing to let the Swiss star join Stoke for 3m euros (£2.35m).
The 26-year-old, who spent last season on loan with Turkish club Fenerbahce, joined Spurs at 18 and remained on their books from 2004 to 2007.
He only played a limited number of games, however, being loaned out to Wigan, Hamburg and Sampdoria before eventually joining the latter long-term and playing more than 100 games.
Ziegler has played more than 30 times for Switzerland and was sent off in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales in Cardiff last October.
Meanwhile, Mama Sidibe has allayed fears of another long-term injury by revealing: "I only have a groin strain."
Sidibe, who hasn't played first-team football for two years because of knee and Achilles tendon injuries, limped off during Stoke's 1-0 home defeat to Manchester United in the club's inaugural under-21 fixture.
But Sidibe, one of three over-age outfield players allowed to appear, said: "It is normal to get this kind of injury because your body is not used to playing after so long out.
"I am having a scan to find out exactly what is wrong."