Hibic Deal Close

MD Paul Aldridge is confident that Atletico Madrid central defender Mirsad Hibic will secure the necessary paperwork to be allowed to play for West Ham soon.

And insists that the Hayden Foxe saga last season does not bear comparison with the case of the Bosnian international.

"We are very confident he will get a work permit," says Paul, "and we hope it will happen by the end of next week."

Reports suggesting the case will take several weeks are wide of the mark, and the hope is that once the panel of six in the Overseas Labour section of the

Department of Education and Employment meet next week, a quick and positive decision will be made about the 28-year-old.

That could, conceivably, allow him to play against Leeds United at Upton Park on August 25, although that is unlikely, with paperwork having to be completed by noon on Friday if he was to be able to play.

Hayden had work permit problems because he was not deemed to have played the required percentage of games for Australia - largely because of injuries.

But in the case of Mirsad, the ratio of games played is not in question, merely the fact that Bosnia are not in the top 70 of the FIFA rankings.

That means the decision goes to appeal, and Paul adds:

"It is a different scenario to Hayden and we are confident the panel will look favourably on the case.

"His international credentials are well establish and if Bosnia were just a few places higher the deal would have been a formality.

"As it is, we feel it will be worth the short wait, as he is a player Glenn has had his eye on for some time.

"We have offered him a good four year contract and we expect that will be taken into account at the hearing next week.

"Mirsad adapted well to life in Spain, playing for one of the biggest clubs in Europe, and we are hoping he will settle in just as quickly here."

It will not stop Glenn's search for more defensive options but at least the capture of Hibic will afford the West Ham boss some breathing space as he also looks for a midfielder to replace Frank Lampard.