'Expect the unexpected' – Millwall's new keeper discusses his Den debut

BARTOSZ Bialkowski wasn’t fazed when he was handed a debut quicker than expected last Saturday – and vowed to keep working hard to stay in the No.1 jersey.

Bialkowski was summoned from the bench in the 43rd minute against Preston at The Den after Frank Fielding, who was also making his debut, damaged his quad.

Normally players prefer some early action to soothe the nerves after coming on, but such was Millwall’s defensive display that Bialkowski didn’t have a save to make in the game.

He took the experience in his stride in front of a raucous home crowd.

“I expect the unexpected,” Bialkowski said. “The goalkeeping position is a bit different from everyone else’s, it comes with experience and you’ve got to prepare yourself.

“The lads defended so well, it was one of the best team performances I’ve ever seen, I don’t think they had a shot on target or even off target. Your concentration level has to be high because you never know.

“I know from playing against Millwall in the past it was always a difficult stadium to come to, the fans can make a big difference. They showed that on Saturday they can be our 12th player, they can give us a massive boost.”

Bialkowski signed the week of the game after a previous permanent switch had fallen through.

“As I soon as I signed I felt great,” Bialkowski said. “I kind of knew Frankie might play. I want to play, Frankie wants to play, but I didn’t look at him, I just looked and myself and wanted a good couple of weeks of training and then take it from there.

“Luckily for me I got my chance but I need to keep working hard.”

*Read a long feature interview with Bialkowski in Southwark News on Thursday. He talks about his interesting and at times testing career, including having contract offers from Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund on the table as a teenager, dodgy agents, an ACL injury that would affect a transfer 13 years later, his last chance at Notts County – and a hug from his new boss on his arrival at The Den.

John Kelly