Friday 18 January 2019

Staunton uses granny rule to draft in Folan

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

STEVE STAUNTON has called on the 'granny rule' to add the physical presence of Wigan striker Caleb Folan to his squad for the Republic of Ireland's make-or-break European Championship double header against Wales and Slovakia.

The rapid rise of the 24-year-old to international football was completed yesterday when he made the cut for the qualifiers after receiving clearance for his Irish passport on Wednesday night.

And Staunton is now hoping that the "big awkward bugger" can make the same impact for Ireland that he has for Wigan after scoring twice in five Premiership games since his January arrival from Chesterfield.

Folan qualifies for Ireland through Galway-born grandparents and gets his place in the squad ahead of a cluster of in-form front men at Championship level, including David Connolly, Stephen Ward, Clinton Morrison, Andy Keogh and Daryl Murphy.

"Big Caleb is a different option," explained Staunton. "I've gone for players that are playing at a higher level at the moment.

"I saw him play for Chesterfield in their cup run last year and when I got the job Ian Evans mentioned that he thought he had Irish roots.

"We kept a close eye on him and when he moved to Wigan we did a bit of research and homework and thankfully found out he could play for us.

Accidentally

"He's six foot two inches, a big lad that's strong and quick and knows where the goal is. I wouldn't like to play against him. He's one of them who accidentally bumps into you or stands on your toes and doesn't know he's doing it. He's not pleasing on the eye."

Staunton hasn't had a proper chance to talk with Folan yet quipping that "he's a typical Premiership footballer that doesn't answer his phone" but has been buoyed by reports from club-mate Kevin Kilbane.

"We've talked to an awful lot of people about his upbringing in football. When I spoke to Kevin about him he was delighted and when you hear other senior players talking about him like that you must be doing something right.

"I also spoke to people from teams who played against him. He gave Richard Dunne a hard time against Man City and that's always nice to hear because not too many get the better of Richard."

While Staunton spoke of opting for Premiership strikers over the Championship contingent, he conceded that an exception had been made in the case of Anthony Stokes.

Given that he is behind Connolly in the pecking order at Sunderland, his selection at the expense of his club colleague and Morrison could be construed as a surprise.

"Anthony gives us a different dimension and that's why I've gone with that," asserts Staunton.

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