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Poland bid to wash away their World Cup disaster with win in Wroclaw


GREAT RESULT: The Polish team that managed to get a 1-1 draw against Italy in Bologna on Friday. Photo: REUTERS

GREAT RESULT: The Polish team that managed to get a 1-1 draw against Italy in Bologna on Friday. Photo: REUTERS

GREAT RESULT: The Polish team that managed to get a 1-1 draw against Italy in Bologna on Friday. Photo: REUTERS

Some people of Wroclaw are worried about an invasion of foreigners.

Fresh from confirmation that the 10% of the population of the city is now made up of Ukrainians who have fled poverty and war there, an anti-refugee demonstration was held in the city yesterday, though only 10 supporters turned up and they were outnumbered by left-wing groups.

There will be no fears in the southern Polish city about being invaded by another batch of foreigners, Irish men and women this weekend, as a small travelling support is expected to travel and back Martin O'Neill's side.

Some of the hardy bunch will travel but they do so in hope more than anything else, wanting to see something better than the dismal fare served up in Wales last week but not so sure that this wll come their way.

The mood is grim and morale is low in the Irish support base, a world away from the expectant mood that hung around the Irish side when O'Neill has his first game as manager of the Republic back in 2013, on Polish soil, a 0-0 draw in a Poznan friendly.

Poland will provide a very stuff test to a Irish squad low on experience, especially in midfield and attack.


With new coach Jerzy Brzeczek in charge, they have made a good start to putting their World Cup nightmare behind them, as they began the Nations League campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Italy, victory snatched away from a decent-looking Polish side only by Italy scoring a late penalty.

Their squad was quite tasty looking and they have added to it with players who were unable to feature against Italy in Bologna now fit, a recall for Piotr Zielinski and Jan Bednarek.

O'Neill did some tinkering with his squad in the days since the loss to Wales. Jon Walters left the camp so he can go to Ipswich Town and work on his fitness, the veteran yet to play for the Tractor Boys as his loan move did not go through in time for him to feature.

Stephen Ward, who picked up an injury in Cardiff, has also withdrawn from the squad and his absence opens a door to Enda Stevens to make his first international start, a late beginning for the 28-year-old.

It's in midfield and attack where O'Neill faces his biggest woes. He could drop his entire back four and goalkeeper from Cardiff and expect an improvement but the midfield area needs some shape to it.


The absence of Jon Walters means that the Irish front line will be the weakest, in terms of experience, to have taken the field in a senior international in two generations.

Mick McCarthy once had the luxury of being able to drop Robbie Keane for a World Cup qualifier and Shane Long spent long periods on the bench - indeed his finest our in the green jersey came off the bench when he dealt with being dropped for the qualifier at home to Germany, came off the bench and scored the winner against the world champions.

With no Long, no Walters, no Maguire and no Hogan, it will be up to the likes of Graham Burke, Callum Robinson and the uncapped duo of Ronan Curtis and Aiden O'Brien to deliver.

And tthat's a stiff test in Wroclaw against a Polish outfit who are successfully rebuilding after the World Cup.


A new manager has added some new faces, kept some old ones and made the team which was a flop in Russia into a force again, good enough to lead for a long spell away to Italy and claim a point.

Experience will be in short supply in the Irish XI which takes the field.

O'Neill can only hope that enthusiasm of the likes of Burke and Curtis can make an impact.