PILKS: COUNTY FACE FIGHT FOR KEEP­ERS

Bart and Fab are too good – we’ll get of­fers

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Jamie Holt

NOTTS County’s abun­dance of riches in goal could lead to one of their stars leav­ing Meadow Lane this sum­mer, says goal­keep­ing coach Kevin Pilk­ing­ton.

Both Bar­tosz Bialkowski and his 19-year-old un­der­study Fabian Spiess have been at­tract­ing at­ten­tion from Cham­pi­onship clubs af­ter a string of fine dis­plays.

Former Manch­ester United keeper Pilk­ing­ton ranks exPoland U21 in­ter­na­tional Bialkowski, be­low, as the best in League One.

The 25-year-old was a sur­prise ar­rival in the sum­mer af­ter leav­ing Pre­mier League­bound Southamp­ton, but 14 clean sheets in all com­pe­ti­tions be­fore this week­end have come as no shock to Pilk­ing­ton.

Giants

And with Ger­man Spiess linked with a move to a num­ber of top clubs in­clud­ing both Manch­ester giants, Pilk­ing­ton be­lieves County could be re­ceiv­ing some un­wanted bids.

“In my opin­ion Bart is the best in the league. He’s been very con­sis­tent through­out the sea­son and kept us in an aw­ful lot of games,” said Pilk­ing­ton.

“Bart has been al­most an ever present and been in su­perb form. If I’m hon­est we were sur­prised to get him when he left Southamp­ton in the sum­mer, but it was great for us to be able to get a keeper of that qual­ity .

“Fabian’s a great prospect. When he’s been given the chance he’s come in and done well in the six or so games he’s had. It’s in­evitable that they’ll be linked with moves, and it’s not sur­pris­ing given the tal­ent they both have.

“It would be great if they could both stay, but I’ve no doubt that both could play at a higher level.” Veteran Pilk­ing­ton, now 39, is still reg­is­tered as a player for the Mag­pies and came to his side’s res­cue in their 2-1 de­feat against Brent­ford on Good Fri­day.

Bialkowski fell ill at half­time, while Spiess was in­jured, mean­ing Pilk­ing­ton – whose last game for County was the fi­nal match of the 2008/09 sea­son and last com­pet­i­tive game was for Lu­ton last Jan­uary – was asked to step in.

That Grif­fin Park game also brought up his 150th for the Mag­pies, hav­ing been stuck on 149 for al­most four years, and Pilk­ing­ton thought he’d never reach the land­mark.

“It was a bit of a sur­prise to find my­self in a Notts shirt again. I had five years with the club and didn’t think I’d be back again,” he added.

“My last game for Notts would have been about three or four years ago, my last ac­tual com­pet­i­tive game was last Jan­uary for Lu­ton, so it’s been a while, but I en­joyed be­ing back out there, and I felt con­fi­dent. “I’ve been sit­ting on the bench just as back up really, but I’ve still been keep­ing my­self sharp in train­ing.

“It was ob­vi­ously nice to get to that 150 land­mark as well – 149 was a bit of a funny num­ber to leave it on.

“It was cer­tainly un­ex­pected, but if needed I’m there. I reg­is­tered my­self for an emer­gency like this and I’m will­ing to do it again. We’ll see what hap­pens.”

CLASSY: Fabian Spiess

DE­SIRE: Alex Rev­ell

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