Poland National Team boss Waldemar Fornalik announced his squad for February’s friendly game against Romania, with many faces from December’s game against Macedonia returning for the trip to The Costa del Sol.
After impressive performances in the Ekstraklasa Autumn Round, Górnik Zabrze keeper Łukasz Skorupski will likely retain the number 1 jersey, whilst Jagiellonia Białystok stopper Jakub Słowik looks to remain as a back-up.
In defence, Górnik captain Adam Danch and Zagłębie Lubin’s Bartosz Rymaniak lose their spots in the eighteen, with the returning-from-injury Jakub Wawrzyniak and Piotr Celeban taking their seats on the plane.
Whilst FC Vaslui’s Celeban will surely play some part against his country of residence, one man disappointed to miss out is another Romanian-based Pole – Steaua București defender Łukasz Szukała. 28 year-old Szukała has been garnering great reviews since his summer move from Petrolul Ploiești; but despite Fornalik taking a look at the ex-1860 München full-back, he opted for Legia’s Jakub Wawrzyniak and Jakub Rzeźniczak instead.
Fornalik’s midfield eight remain unchanged from the squad which beat Macedonia in Turkey, with Śląsk’s former Derby and Porto man Przemek Kaźmierczak and Legia’s Daniel Łukasik still favoured ahead of Rafał Murawski, Aleksander Kwiek and Łukasz Trałka.
Whilst recent displays in the white-and-red have seemingly ended Murawski’s international career, and Trałka’s club form hasn’t always been good enough to to be considered international class, Kwiek has been one of the top performers in the Ekstraklasa. Being overlooked once more, you have to feel that he isn’t destined to wear the White Eagle in his chest.
Sitting up-top, Ruch Chorzów’s top scorer Arkadiusz Piech was the obvious choice to lead the line. Having played under Fornalik at Ruch, 27 year-old Piech has found his way into the Białe-Orły squad for the qualifying game against England, as well as the friendlies against South Africa, Uruguay and Macedonia. But despite his call-up, Piech is keen to leave Chorzów, with CFR Cluj and Sivasspor interested. Should he head to Turkey in the next few weeks, he will need to be replaced in the squad.
A player who definitely did need to be replaced for the game was new Leverkusen signing Arkadiusz Milik. Rather than selecting Polonia’s Łukasz Teodorczyk, who is recovering from injury, or Lech’s top scorer Bartosz Ślusarski, Fornalik looked towards Widzew Łódź’s 17 year-old prodigy Mariusz Stępiński.
Having played a big part in the Poland U17 squad’s third-place finish in the European Championships, Stępiński – 3rd in #Ekstraklasa Magazine’s “Pięćdziesiąt” list – has been hailed as one of the most exciting players currently coming through in Poland.
Although it may just be a friendly game, the clash with Romania is a great opportunity for some of Poland’s fringe talent to stake a spot in the first team alongside Błaszczykowski and Lewandowski. With Fornalik more willing than his predecessor to look away from the more established names, it could also be the perfect chance to help to establish another future hero of Polish football.
Full Squad v Romania:
GK: Łukasz Skorupski (Górnik), Jakub Słowik (Jagiellonia Białystok)
DF: Jakub Rzeźniczak, Jakub Wawrzyniak, Artur Jędrzejczyk (all Legia Warszawa), Łukasz Bróz (Widzew Łódź), Piotr Celeban (FC Vaslui), Tomasz Jodłowiec (Śląsk Wrocław).
MD: Daniel Łukasik, Jakub Kosecki, Dominik Furman (all Legia Warszawa), Przemysław Kaźmierczak, Waldemar Sobota (both Śląsk Wrocław), Paweł Wszołek (Polonia Warszawa), Szymon Pawłowski (Zagłębie Lubin), Tomasz Kupisz (Jagiellonia Białystok).
ST: Arkadiusz Piech (Ruch Chorzów), Mariusz Stępiński (Widzew Łódź).
Poland – Romania takes place on February 2nd, in Malaga, Spain.