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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Depleted Ireland face huge test against Poland

Martin O'Neill's men lack attacking edge

Martin O'Neill (left) and Seamus Coleman
1 of 1

International friendly
Sky Sports Mix, 7.45pm Tuesday

Injury-hit Ireland had their deficiencies ruthlessly exposed by Wales in a 4-1 loss at the Cardiff City Stadium on Thursday and they are unlikely to fare much better in an international friendly against Poland in Wroclaw.

Martin O'Neill will be asking for a response from his players but the options available to him are further reduced by the withdrawal of Jonathan Walters and Stephen Ward.

It leaves Ireland with just seven Premier League players in the squad and six of those are defenders.

Despite going into the Wales game with a solid enough back four, the rest of the team were nowhere near good enough and the three-goal margin of defeat was a fair reflection of the home side's dominance.

Given the lack of quality players to choose from in midfield and attack, it is probably a good thing that there are no points resting on the Poland match.

The main aim for O'Neill will be to limit the damage against a highly motivated Poland side eager to atone for their poor showing at the World Cup.

The Poles began the process of making amends by securing a 1-1 draw away to Italy in their Nations League opener on Friday.

It was a promising start for new head coach Jerzy Brzeczek, who replaced Adam Nawalka after the World Cup, and puts them well-placed in League A, Group Three with home games against Portugal and Italy and a trip to Portugal to come.

The game against Ireland will not be seen as such a high priority but the players should be keen to impress in their first home match under the new regime.

Ireland should be seriously tested and have very limited means to respond.

Striker Ronan Curtis has been called up from the under-21 squad after scoring five goals in his first six matches for Portsmouth in Sky Bet League One.

But the 22-year-old faces a huge step up in class and his selection says more about the lack of alternative options than his own progression.

Poland, even if star striker Robert Lewandowski is rested, have much greater quality in the final third and look a solid bet to cover a one-goal deficit on the Asian handicap – ensuring stakes returned in he event of a one-goal success and a profit should they win by two or more.

Poland -1 on Asian handicap
1pt 21-20 bet365

Bet on this game at

Team news
Right back Lukasz Piszczek retired from international football after the World Cup finals.

Jonathan Walters (match fitness) and Stephen Ward (foot) have withdrawn along with Seamus Coleman who also has a foot injury.

Key stat
Ireland have not scored more than one goal in any of their last seven away fixtures.

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Despite going into the Wales game with a solid enough back four, the rest of the Ireland team were nowhere near good enough
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