Republic of Ireland skipper Robbie Keane has no fears about rookie international Caleb Folan being pitched into the heat of World Cup battle.
The 26-year-old Hull striker is in line to make his first competitive start for Ireland against Bulgaria tonight as Giovanni Trapattoni's side attempt to ease themselves closer to next year's finals in South Africa.
"I saw what potential he had when he was at Leeds," he said. "He is a different player to what you see around. He is a big lad, he's got a great touch and if you saw the impact he made in the Italy game when he came on, he was superb when he came on."
He added: "If he brings that into tomorrow's game and for the future for Ireland, he has certainly got a great future with the national team."
But Folan may not be the only man thrown in at the deep end tonight with Preston defender Sean St Ledger also in line to start in place of the injured Paul McShane after impressing in the friendly draw with Nigeria last Friday night.
His inclusion is likely to mean John O'Shea switching from central defence to right-back to accommodate the 24-year-old alongside Richard Dunne in the middle.
However, Keane does not expect him to be fazed by the challenge either.
He said: "I have only seen Sean on a few occasions, but he has been in the squad before and I was always impressed with him.
"He was only a young lad when he came in, and now you see he has matured and has certainly become a better player, and last week against Nigeria, he showed that.
"Nigeria are not an easy team to play against. They are a tough team and he showed what he can do. It is up to him now to take his chance, but I wouldn't worry too much about him, I think he will be fine."
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