Iraq international Nashat Akram has been refused a work permit to play for Manchester City.Sven-Goran Eriksson had hoped to sign Akram, a star of Iraq's Asian Cup-winning side. But it appears the 24-year-old cannot travel to the UK because of a technicality of immigration rules for footballers - which stipulate his national side must be in the top 70 of the FIFA rankings. Manchester City have already lost an appeal against the Home Office decision, but hope remains after the Iraqi government took up Akram's cause. Midfielder Akram, born in Hilla, currently plays for Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates. He has been the subject of speculation over a move to the Barclays Premier League since he played a key role in helping Iraq win last year's Asian Cup. But the national team has been unable to move up in the rankings because it has been impossible to play any home matches because of fears of violence. The team have not played a home game in nearly 20 years. City boss Eriksson told the club's official website, www.mcfc.uk: 'This is a big blow and a great disappointment to us. 'I have huge sympathy for Nashat. He is a very good footballer with an excellent international pedigree. 'He has now returned to the Middle East, and we will keep in touch with him. He is somebody we will maintain an interest in for the long term.'