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Sunday 17 December 2017

Former Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek: Poland's class will be the difference on Sunday

Liverpool legend, turned racing driver, confident of qualification

Jerzy Dudek
Jerzy Dudek

FORMER Liverpool and Poland star Jerzy Dudek believes that Poland’s superior class in the goalkeeping position could swing the game their way when the sides face up to each other in Lansdowne Road on Sunday.

A Champions League winner with the Reds in 2005, Dudek believes that the away side can come away from Dublin on Sunday night with the result needed to keep them on course for a third successive appearance at the European Championship finals and damage Ireland's bid to get to France.

"Ireland are under more pressure, than us, if they lose to Poland they will be in a very, very difficult situation," Dudek told The Herald.

"And we know that a win would give us a great chance to get to France 2016 but if one of the teams lose on Sunday, it will be hard for them to qualify.

"We have our last game at home, to Ireland, and a win in Dublin would put us in a great position.

"We have an extra three points that we hadn't really counted on, from the game at home to Germany as we didn't really expect to beat them.

"That three points has put us in a good place but still, Sunday is a big game for us," added Dudek.

No longer working full-time in football, the ex-keeper does media work, has a soccer school in Kraków - and gets behind the wheel. "I am now a racing driver, I have just come back from my training sessions, I will be a professional driver in the Volkswagen Golf Cup, which is a big deal in central Europe now," he says.

While David Forde has been established for a while as Ireland’s No. 1, he had had a difficult season at club level with relegation-threatened Millwall, and while Shay Given is in contention to play on Sunday, his age (Given turns 39 next month) and his lack of first-team football is a concern.

Lack of club games could cost long-time No. 1 Wojciech Szczesny his place in the Poland side as challengers Artur Boruc (Bournemouth) and Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea) are in top form with their clubs.

“The goalkeeper was never really a problem for us, we have always had a solid keeper,” says Dudek (left), Poland’s most-capped keeper with 60 appearances (though Boruc would break that record if he plays on Sunday).

“But we are in a very strong position right now in goal. It’s a big talking point in Poland now, who will play on Sunday.

“Most people seem to think that Fabianski should play instead of Szczesny as he is playing every week in the Premier League, and he is in good form.

“The coach will be criticised no matter what he does. If he goes with Szczesny he will get stick, if he plays Fabianski and we don’t win he will be attacked also. If I had the call, I would go with Fabianski, he is a great keeper who is in good form with his club,” Dudek told The Herald.

“Ireland don’t seem to have the same nice headache, I know Shay Given from playing against him in the Premier League, he was always very solid and had a great mentality. But he’s older now and is not playing for his club, so that’s a big call for your manager.”

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