Bartosz Bialkowski reflects on an emotional 18 months in tonight's matchday programme
Bart Bialkowski has spoken about the challenge of playing his part in Town’s promotion bid while his dad battled against cancer.
The ‘keeper looks back on the hardest 18 months of his life in an interview in tonight’s matchday programme, with football providing a respite from the worry over his father Marek’s health back home in Poland.
“My dad was a massive person for me. He was always there for me,” said Bart, whose father sadly passed away in August.
“It was a very hard time for us all when he was ill. He had lung cancer for about a year and a half. I knew for a long time that he might not make it but you still believe that maybe he could, that maybe he could live with it for a few more years.
“It was a very stressful time, especially for my sister and mum who were at home with my dad. I was far away but I talked to my dad every day and if I had any time off, I was on the plane straight back to Poland. The gaffer was great for letting me go home as much as I could.
“There were times when it was hard to concentrate on my job but being around the training ground helped me cope. When you are focusing on your job, you don’t think about the sad part of your life. You don’t forget, obviously because as soon as you are driving home, it’s there again but when I was training and playing games, you put it to the back of your mind for a while.”
Read more from Bart on those emotional 18 months, his international dream and signing a new contract in tonight’s matchday programme, priced at just £3 and available from kiosks around the stadium.
Luke Hyam and Jonathan Douglas will return to the Town squad for the visit of Steve Bruce’s side this evening, with the former shaking off a niggling calf injury, and the latter returning from his three-match suspension. Dean Gerken has completed his comeback from a shoulder injury and is available for selection, although Teddy Bishop, Ryan Fraser, David McGoldrick [hamstring], Cole Skuse [foot] and Giles Coke [knee] all remain out.
Steve Bruce is likely to revert back to his regular side after making a host of changes prior to their 0-0 FA Cup draw with Arsenal at the weekend. The likes of Abel Hernandez, Mo Diame, Jake Livermore and Andrew Robertson were all rested on Saturday and, with the Tigers having no real injury concerns to contend with, they have a full squad to choose from.
Where They Stand
Town – 9th
Hull City – 1st
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Last Time They Met
The Tigers strolled to a 3-0 victory when these two sides last faced off in October. First-half goals from Alex Bruce and Chuba Akpom set the tone of the game before David Meyler wrapped up the victory midway through the second half with a fine volley from the edge of the box. The defeat was to be the Blues’ last on the road for the next seven matches as they recorded five wins and two draws in that period before the run came to an end with the recent 3-0 loss at Birmingham.
Dougie will return to the squad for the first time since being sent off in that defeat at St. Andrews having now served his three game suspension. The Irishman will provide some additional reinforcements in midfield following injuries to Giles Coke and Cole Skuse; therefore, he could be in line to make an immediate return to the starting line-up this evening.
The Uruguayan striker has been racking up the goals this season, and has 16 to his name so far; a total only bettered by Burnley’s Andre Gray, who has 18. He is certainly a man in form with seven of Hernandez’s 16 strikes coming in his last seven matches, including a hat-trick in Hull’s 6-0 demolition of Charlton in January.
Sky Bet Odds
Tonight’s visitors go into tonight’s game as slight favourites over Town, and the bookies are pricing them at 7/5 to pick up all three points. The Blues are slightly further out at 2/1 as they look to extend their unbeaten run at Portman Road to five matches. The draw is available at 9/4.
Referee: Brendan Malone
Assistant Referees: Lee Venamore & Adrian Sannerude
Fourth Official: Keith Stroud
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