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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Stephen Quinn: 'Shackling Robert Lewandowski won't be enough to stop Poland'

Stephen Quinn, Republic of Ireland
Stephen Quinn, Republic of Ireland
Robert Lewandowski. Picture: Sven Hoppe/AP

Stephen Quinn has warned the Republic of Ireland not to be fooled into believing they only have to shackle lethal striker Robert Lewandowski to get the better of Poland.

The Republic entertain the Group D leaders at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday evening looking for a victory which would take them level with the Poles and get their campaign back on track after November's 1-0 defeat in Scotland.

However, Martin O'Neill has left his players in little doubt that preventing Lewandowski from doing what he does best is only one of the missions in which they must succeed if they are to prosper, with Arkadiusz Milik and Sebastian Mila also representing significant threats.

Quinn said: "I don't think we need to say too much about Lewandowski because we know exactly how much of a threat he is. But hopefully we can keep him quiet at the weekend.

"But they are strong all over. They are plying their trades throughout the European leagues and they have got a top striker in Lewandowski up front, so we all know how good they are.

"Poland are a strong side. We have watched a lot of videos on them throughout the week already. The manager doesn't want to leave any stone unturned going into it for set-pieces, et cetera.

"We know how strong they are and we have done our homework, so hopefully we can deal with that on Sunday.

"We can't dwell on how good they are, we have got to look at our own qualities and try to apply them in the game on Sunday and get those three points that we really want. We have got our own pace down the flanks as well, so hopefully we can counteract that."

Lewandowski has four goals to his name in as many games during the campaign to date, although they all came in Poland's 7-0 drubbing of minnows Gibraltar in Faro in September, and it was Milik and Mila who were on target to defeat world champions Germany in Warsaw the following month.

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Robert Lewandowski. Picture: Sven Hoppe/AP

Robert Lewandowski

Ireland compounded the Germans' woes three days later when they emerged from their trip to Gelsenkirchen with a 1-1 draw, courtesy of John O'Shea's injury-time equaliser, although their hopes of securing one of the two automatic qualification berths were dented by the reverse in Glasgow.

That left the Republic, the Scots and Joachim Low's men locked together on seven points, three adrift of Poland, although Quinn is confident there will be no hangover from the disappointment at Celtic Park.

He said: "No, I don't think so. Obviously, we were disappointed with the result, but we can't dwell on that.

"It was a close game, it wasn't the prettiest, but if we keep looking back at that, then we are not going to be going forward, so we have just got to concentrate on this Poland game.

"That's gone now and we have got to look at our home form and try to get the three points here, which is most important."

Poland appear in 34th place in FIFA's latest rankings list with Ireland in 66th, and it has been to Ireland's detriment that they have not been able to see off teams ranked above them in their most recent campaigns.

That is a situation which will have to change if they are to finish in the top two, and the significance of that will not be lost on a bumper crowd at the Aviva Stadium, the site of the former Lansdowne Road stage on which Jason McAteer captured the imagination of a nation by dumping Holland out of the World Cup back in 2001.

Quinn said: "As a boy growing up on the streets of Dublin, it's where everybody wants to be. Sometimes you pinch yourself, but being out on that pitch and playing for your country, you can't beat it.

"The boys are all ready and waiting. We all know how big a game it is, the boys are all on it and really looking forward to it."

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