Talking points as Republic of Ireland prepare for Poland friendly
The Republic were beaten 4-1 in Wales in their Nations League opener.
Martin O’Neill will send his depleted Republic of Ireland team into friendly battle in Poland on Tuesday evening looking for a reaction to their horror show in Wales.
The Republic were soundly beaten in Cardiff on Thursday evening as they slipped to a 4-1 defeat in their Nations League opener, and the manager will want a positive response before next month’s double-header against Denmark and the Welsh in Dublin.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the game.
Watershed moment for O’Neill?
🙌 What a performance! What did you think about the match? #TheRedWall #TogetherStronger #WALIRLPosted by FA Wales on Thursday, September 6, 2018
O’Neill heads into the game in Wroclaw once again facing questions over his tenure following the debacle in Wales.
There were mitigating factors – he was without, for a variety of reasons, Robbie Brady, James McCarthy, James McClean, Shane Long, Declan Rice and Harry Arter – but the performance did little to answer the criticism which came his way following last November’s 5-1 World Cup play-off drubbing by Denmark. A significant improvement is required as he approaches his fifth anniversary in the job with the positivity of his side’s Euro 2016 finals campaign fast evaporating.
🎥 | Ronan Curtis secures point in Kosovo with great strike! 🙌#IRLU21🇮🇪 striker @RonanCurtis1 finds the bottom corner to level the UEFA U21 European Championship qualifying game! 💪— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) September 7, 2018
Great finish! #COYBIG 👏 pic.twitter.com/McSqUwldBt
Ireland were always going to struggle to fill Robbie Keane’s sizeable boots after he announced his retirement from international football having scored 68 goals in 146 appearances, but rarely in the two years since his exit has O’Neill found the well so dry. With Long, John Walters, Scott Hogan and Sean Maguire all injured, he will have to chose from a quartet with extremely limited experience at this level, Preston duo Graham Burke and Callum Robinson, Millwall’s Aiden O’Brien and Under-21 international Ronan Curtis, who has scored five goals in six League One games for Portsmouth this season.
Should Poland skipper Robert Lewandowski get the nod against the Republic, he will win his 100th international cap. The 30-year-old Bayern Munich marksman, who made it to 99 in Friday night’s 1-1 Nations League draw with Italy in Bologna, has 55 goals to his name, but did not find the back of the net at this summer’s World Cup finals and has not scored in his last four appearances.
Ireland have played more friendlies against Poland than any other nation. The sides have met on 27 occasions dating back to 1938, 23 of them non-competitive. The nations did not play a competitive fixture until a 0-0 European qualifier draw at Lansdowne Road in May 1991. The Republic have come out on top on six occasions and the Poles 11, the last of them a 2-1 win in Warsaw in October 2015 which booked former head coach Adam Nawalka’s men a trip to the Euro 2016 finals.