herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Risky business as ace Jakub is Pole-axed

POLAND's coach has been told that he's taking a big risk by omitting star winger Jakub Blaszczykowski for the key Euro 2016 battle with Ireland in Dublin later this month.

Martin O'Neill will name his squad for the qualifier tomorrow morning but his Polish counterpart, Adam Nawalka, has already made one big decision on his personnel as he's told Borussia Dortmund star Blaszczykowski, capped 68 times, that his presence is not required in Dublin.

A Champions League regular and a Bundesliga winner with Dortmund, 'Kuba' is one of the key men on the Polish scene. But he has not played for his country in 16 months - his last appearance was against Ireland in Poznan - and a bitter row over the captain's armband lingers on. Blaszczykowski had been the Polish skipper but his his absence due to injury, Robert Lewandowski was made captain and retained the armband once Blaszczykowski was fit again.

The winger has recently battled with injury but following a meeting with him in Germany last week, coach Nawalka let it be know that Blaszczykowski would not be in the squad in Dublin and would "watch on TV".

"Leaving Blaszczykowski out would be a big risk," said former Poland international Andrzej Juskowiak. "It's a big decision for the coach and a risky one, Poland should have the strongest-possible side on the field in Dublin.

"There are still three weeks to go before the game and that's enough time for Kuba to prove he's fit."

Blaszczykowski's club-mate Lukasz Piszczek is certain to miss the game due to injury.

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