Belfast Telegraph

Poland boss is looking to positives despite poor draw with Lithuania

By Stuart McKinley

Poland coach Adam Nawalka clung to the positives of midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak getting 85 minutes under his belt on his return from injury and keeping a third clean sheet in four games as his team was frustrated by Lithuania in their final Euro 2016 warm-up-match.

Less than a week before they meet Northern Ireland in Nice in Group C's opening game, the Poles, who were the leading goalscorers in qualifying for the finals, failed to find the net for the first time in 10 games.

Despite struggling to break down the stubborn Lithuanian defence, Nawalka left star striker Robert Lewandowski on the bench for the entire 90 minutes in Krakow and instead used six other substitutes, including Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who replaced Lukas Fabianski at half-time.

Instead, 22-year-old Ajax frontman Arek Milik - who has an impressive tally of 10 goals in 26 internationals - played the entire game as a lone striker without success.

They did come close to scoring on the hour mark when Jakub Blaszczykowski's effort came back off a post.

The Poles have tightened up at the back as the finals approach, with their third clean sheet in four games coming after they had failed to shut out their opponents in each of the six games prior to that, but they did look shaky at times with Palermo's Thiago Cionek in central defence and teenage midfielder Bartosz Kapustka deployed at right-back in an experimental back line.

Meanwhile, Germany manager Joachim Low is keeping his fingers crossed that Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger will be able to declare himself fit before their opening game against Ukraine on Sunday evening in Lille.

German skipper Schweinsteiger missed the end of the season after picking up a knee ligament injury while on international duty in March, but Low still included him in his 23-man squad for the finals.

"Right now, I still have hope that he will make it in time for the start of the European Championship in France," commented Low.

"He's keeping me informed as to how far he is and we just have to see how quickly he recovers from it."

Belfast Telegraph