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Lewandowski set for belated first start at Euro 2024 and isn't ready to quit Poland duty yet

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — Don't worry, Poland. Robert Lewandowski isn't ready to quit playing for the national team just yet.

The Barcelona striker is set to make a belated first start for Poland at the European Championship in the Group D closer against France on Tuesday, even if it comes too late to keep his national team in the tournament.

The Poles have already been eliminated after back-to-back losses, to the Netherlands and Austria. Lewandowski, who sustained a thigh injury in a Euro 2024 warmup match, missed the 2-1 defeat to the Dutch and met Austria only as a 60th-minute substitute in the 3-1 loss.

“Only now can I say I am ready,” Lewandowski said on Monday.

“I’m ready to play from the beginning," he added. "I think I can cope with 90 (minutes).”

At age 36, Lewandowski might be playing his last ever match at a European Championship but he intends to continue turning up for national-team duty.

“A lot of people will be wondering how long I will play for, but I still have that fire inside of me and no one from outside will be able to affect my decision. Just me and my family,” said Lewandowski, who has a national-record 82 goals in 151 games.

“Maybe one day I will wake up and I'll think it's maybe time to think about retiring from international duty. But, today, I feel this team has a future. And despite this European Championship, we have built something here. I see the potential in this team.”

Lewandowski said Poland had been put in what he called the “group of death.”

“It's a high level — this is a quarterfinal level of opponents that we have faced," he said. "It's not easy to get through it just now but it doesn't mean we cannot come back much stronger in the future.”

The game against France will at Westfalenstadion — the home of Borussia Dortmund, for whom Lewandowski played from 2010-14.

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

Steve Douglas, The Associated Press