BY YANN TEAR
Bartosz Bialkowski said he now has another rival for being a loudmouth in the penalty area – as newcomer Charlie Cresswell is not afraid to assert himself in spite of his youth and relative inexperience.
It was a sensational start for the 19-year-old on loan from Leeds.
He had hoped to make an impression at the heart of the Millwall defence, but ended up a hero at the other end of the field – bagging both goals in Saturday’s opening day triumph over Stoke City at The Den.
Bialkowski was highly impressed by both aspects of Cresswell’s game, but particularly taken with the youngster’s role in keeping a clean sheet on day one.
“He’s very loud and not shy,” said the Lions stopper. “It’s a very positive thing to have leaders on the pitch and he’s definitely one of them. I wasn’t expecting that from a young player who has just arrived on loan, but it’s a really good thing.
“Of course, it is my role to keep speaking to the players around me, as a goalkeeper sees everything. I have to be loud, even if I am not always heard, because of the noise in the stadium, but it helps me to stay focused.
“Maybe sometimes it’s the same for Charlie, but it’s good to have another voice in the penalty area keeping everyone focused. And it’s good to have competition for places, which he brings.
“He’s a very good signing for us. He’s aggressive, he’s strong, he’s dominant and he wants to win the ball. He comes with high expectations but he has all the attributes to play at as high a level as he wants.”
From Bialkowski’s point of view, Saturday’s 2-0 win was just about the perfect start, and gives the Lions something to build on ahead of a testing August, which includes trips to Sheffield United this weekend and visits to Swansea, Norwich and Burnley.
“We were very solid and they didn’t create anything clear,” he said of Stoke. “We had good energy and intensity and could have scored more. We have to be very pleased.
“We had a good pre-season. Everybody came back in good shape and we have a good base from which to build. Our fitness and understanding are good and our start has given us a massive boost. We can’t wait to go again.
“It is a tough start for us, but one thing I’ve learned in the Championship is that there are no easy games anyway. Even ones that look like they should be easier on paper can be tough, so in some ways it doesn’t matter who you play.
“It’s about putting in that consistent level of intensity in every single game. It’s the only way to get success.
“Our mindset should be to set the highest standards and there’s no harm in making the play-offs or promotion a target. It sets that winning mentality.”
Bialkowski, now 35, has just completed three years at the club and has reiterated he would be happy to stay on, if the club wants him.
His current deal expires at the end of the season.
“It’s been a fantastic three years, I’ve got to say, and it’s gone so quickly,” he said. “I’m very happy here and if they decide they want me to stay, I’m more than happy to sign.
“I think I’ve shown everyone I can play a high level, consistently.”
Pictures: Brian Tonks
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