A relatively unfamiliar Poland side will take to the field in Warsaw on Saturday evening, as Adam Nawałka looks to extend his unbeaten record in competitive internationals to a sixth game. Georgia are the visitors to the Stadion Narodowy, seven months after the Białe-Orły’s 4-0 victory when the sides last met in Tbilisi.
Łukasz Fabiański will start his second straight game in goal for the Poles, as confirmed by Nawałka in Friday’s press conference; with his impressive performances for Swansea one of the key factors in the decision. However, as for the rest of the team, his cards were kept tightly close to his chest.
“I can only tell you that the number one is Fabiański, while for the other positions, a decision will be taken on the day of the match… We trained on a lot of different options” said the former Górnik boss.
Early reports however are expecting five personnel changes to the side which drew against Ireland, with three of them forced along the back line. Centre-back Kamil Glik serves his suspension after picking up a third yellow card of the campaign in Dublin; while full-backs Jakub Wawrzyniak and Paweł Olkowski also miss out through injury.
After collecting the Ekstraklasa defender of the Year award at the recent Gala Ekstraklasy, Jagiellonia Białystok’s Michał Pazdan is expected to fill-in alongside Łukasz Szukała. Although Pazdan made his debut for the national team back in 2007, he has since gone on to make only a further eight appearances. When he has been selected, Nawałka – Pazdan’s former coach at Gornik – has tended to deploy him in midfield; but given his recent performances at club level, there is confidence that he has the ability to fill-in, at least temporarily, for Glik.
Despite the injury to Köln right-back Olkowski, the Białe-Orły are actually back up to full-strength in the position thanks to the return of Łukasz Piszczek. The Dortmund star, who turned 30 just last week, is a welcome return to the squad; and will make his first appearance since November’s win in Tbilisi. On the opposite side though, proceedings are a little-less straight forward. With the absence of Lechia Gdańsk’s Wawrzyniak, Nawałka has two likely options to fill the often-problematic left-back spot: although primarily deployed further up the field, Maciej Rybus looks favourite among many to fill the gap having done so for Terek Grozny this season; while Legia’s Łukasz Broź is another who Nawałka could potentially lean towards.
As in defence, three changes are predicted in midfield from March’s last outing. Should Rybus move into the back four, Michał Kucharczyk could be the man nominated to replace his former Legia teammate on the left; while, after fracturing his arm in the reverse fixture, Stade Rennais right-winger Kamil Grosicki is also in line for a return – relegating Dublin goalscorer Sławomir Peszko to third-choice, behind the returning Jakub Błaszczykowski.
However the biggest decision for Nawałka to make will come in the centre of midfield, when deciding who will partner Sevilla star Grzegorz Krychowiak. Defensive-minded Tomasz Jodłowiec has long-been the Selekcjoner’s first choice, with Chinese-based Krzysztof Mączyński seen as his replacement. However with both having the tendency to go missing during games, all indications point to the appointment of Lech Poznań prodigy Karol Linetty in a more-attacking role.
20-year-old Linetty, who looks to be on his way to the Premier League this summer, is seen as an important part of the Poland squad for the future; but his impressive showing in helping Lech Poznań to a first title in five years, have given Nawałka enough confidence to consider his for a starting berth. Should he get the nod on Saturday evening, a strong performance will give the coach another tactical option heading into September’s games against Germany and Gibraltar.
In attack, captain Robert Lewandowski and Arkadiusz Milik are certain to start bar any late injury.
EKSTRAKLASAreview Predicted line-up: