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No. 50: Emre Can, Liverpool

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By ESPN Staff

Staunton in line for Republic of Ireland job

Steve Staunton is poised to be appointed as the new manager of the Republic of Ireland by the end of the week.

Staunton, currently assistant manager to Paul Merson at Walsall, is understood to have held talks over the weekend with officials from the Football Association of Ireland.

The FAI have been buoyed by the success of the talks, but they remain at a delicate stage and have yet to be concluded.

The FAI are also looking for a guiding mentor, with former England manager Sir Bobby Robson believed to be in the frame due to Staunton's lack of managerial experience.

Robson has been out of work since being sacked as Newcastle boss in August 2004.

Should the duo be officially confirmed, their first game will be a Lansdowne Road friendly against Sweden on Wednesday, March 1.

That will begin a six-month countdown ahead of the start of the qualification programme for the 2008 European Championships.

Staunton is Ireland's most capped player, making 102 appearances including 16 as captain. He played in two World Cup finals, with his last game the second-round penalty shoot-out to Spain in South Korea three-and-a-half years ago.

His potential appointment will bring an end to a near three-month search for the FAI in the wake of Brian Kerr's dismissal following his failure to guide the Republic to this summer's World Cup finals in Germany.

Saddlers boss Merson said late last year he would not stand in Staunton's way if the international post was available.

'He is respected in Ireland, and I think the fans would want it,' said Merson on Sky Sports News.

'I'd back him. Everybody who plays football would love to manage their country one day, so if it came along, then of course I'd let him go. No worries about that.'

Staunton took the side of former Republic boss Mick McCarthy in the dispute with Roy Keane on the Pacific island of Saipan, which resulted in the then Manchester United player walking out on the Ireland squad just before the 2002 World Cup finals.

However, Keane has since retired from the international game, so there would be no potential personality clash.

Staunton joined Liverpool in September 1986 from Irish side Dundalk. He enjoyed two spells at Aston Villa, between 1991 and 1998 and 2000 and 2003, and returned to Anfield between July 1998 and December 2000.

The 36-year-old has also played for Bradford and Crystal Palace on loan, Coventry and Walsall.