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Saturday 10 December 2016

Fabianski is proving a safe pair of hands

HE HAS been the butt of so many jokes that he's even earned his own nickname in England.

But Lukasz Fabianski - cruelly dubbed 'Flappy-handski' by some Arsenal fans who were less than convinced about the Polish goalkeeper's qualities and reliability - could be the one smiling throughout the summer as his national team today take another step towards a place at France 2016.

While Ireland's duel with Scotland in Dublin today is destined to be a tight and bruising affair, Poland have a big home game of their own but they are expected to breeze past the challenge of a Georgian side who have looked very poor for most of this campaign.

Autumn

"The game today is very important for us in terms of the group and we can put ourselves in a very good position in terms of the finish of the group in the autumn," says Fabianski, the Swansea City keeper who has managed to beat off the competition from Wojciech Szczesny and Artur Boruc to be established as Poland's No 1.

"It could be said that we are close to qualification for the Euros, but on the other hand we can't really start to think like that. We just have to concentrate on this game, after that we can try and look further ahead.

"I don't know if people are concerned about this game against Georgia, to me, we have to be careful. We cannot ease off or be relaxed going into this game just because we are expected to win, we always have to respect the opponent, no matter who they are - I know it's a cliche but it's true."

Poland have put their fans through great misery in recent times.

Tthe national team has reached the finals of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 (as co-hosts), but the has fared badly on the big stage each time.

With a new sprinkling of quality from some of the top leagues around (three keepers in the English Premier League next season, a batch of Bundesliga stars and a recent Europa League winner, Seville's Grzegorz Krychowiak), there's a vibrancy about the side who are still disappointed to have 'only' claimed a point from their last qualifier, away to Ireland in March.

"We have some good players now who are really developing at the big clubs, that can only be good for Poland - hopefully it will be good enough for this squad to get to a major tournament," he added.

Premier League success has also helped and Fabianski now seems like a new man at Swansea City, compared to the perenially- worried man we saw in the Arsenal shirt.

"People ask if Swansea is my ideal club. For me, it's a matter of whether I play," he says.

regularly

"I feel good there, but I also felt good at Arsenal. The difference is that I am playing regularly for the team, your view point depends on where you are looking from."

Georgia, already out of contention for Euro 2016, play their second game under new boss Kakha Tsakhadze, who took over from Temuri Ketsbaia, but expectations back home are low and Georgian fans were this week more excited about the arrival in Tbilisi of the Portugal side, on a training camp before a game with Armenia, than their own national side.

Poland

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