‘You should protect your best players’: Burley insists keeping Bialkowski should be a priority
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Ipswich Town should be doing all they can to secure the long-term future of goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski, according to former Blues boss George Burley.
The Polish stopper was at his stunning best in Saturday’s victory over Nottingham Forest, increasing his stock further at time when he is out of contract in the summer, with the Blues holding an option to extend the popular goalkeeper’s contract by a further 12 months.
Burley had Bialkowski on trial while in charge of Hearts before signing him permanently for Southampton as a teenager in 2006, and believes tying down such an important player, who has regularly expressed his love for the club and the area, should be a priority for the Blues.
“You would have thought so,” Burley said, when asked if Ipswich should be doing all they can to secure Bialkowski’s future. “But football’s a funny game.
“All the fans and myself would think he deserves a great contract but we’ll have to see if he’s given it. That’s the bottom line.
“He’s not been given it yet so he’s there for other teams to look at, which shouldn’t be the case really because you want to protect your best players.”
Burley always knew Bialkowski was capable of great things, revealing he was a better prospect than Ipswich favourite Richard Wright when he was 17, and is pleased to see the Pole performing well after a nasty knee injury threatened to derail his career.
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After leaving Southampton in 2012, following loan spells with Ipswich and Barnsley in 2009, the 30-year-old headed to Notts County to rebuild his career, with Burley not surprised by his progress since then.
“As far as a shot-stopper, I don’t think you will find many better keepers,” he said.
“I signed him when he was 17 and he was always a great shot-stopper but had a very nasty knee injury, which set him back two or three years, and for a goalkeeper it’s even worse than an outfield player because you are landing and diving.
“At 17 he was better than Richard Wright as a goalkeeper, as a shot-stopper, and Richard was fantastic for Ipswich and played for England at 19. He (Bialkowski) always had that potential, his shot-stopping was second to none at that age.
“He’s a great lad, a great professional and has been on top form so it’s no surprise to turn up and see him make these saves because it’s no fluke. It’s what he does.”