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Russian keeper Ivan Konovalov missing family but eager to take Livingston chance

Ivan Konovalov will make his debut at the Tony Macaroni Arena (PA)
Ivan Konovalov will make his debut at the Tony Macaroni Arena (PA)

Russian goalkeeper Ivan Konovalov is focused on seizing his chance at Livingston despite a lengthy ongoing wait for his family to join him in Scotland.

The January signing from Rubin Kazan will make his cinch Premiership debut on Saturday when Livi host Hibernian.

Russia’s war with Ukraine has caused delays to the process of getting his wife and two-year-old daughter, Ivana, over with him, but Konovalov is committed to the West Lothian club.

The 28-year-old said: “I’m not political and I don’t understand what is happening. The only problem for me is I don’t see my family in Russia.

“Every day I stay in contact because I have a small daughter. For me, the only problem is I don’t see my wife and daughter and my parents because flights don’t go from Europe to Russia. I would need to go to Turkey first. After the last day of the season I will go home.

“My wife and daughter are awaiting a visa for the UK, they have been waiting for two months. It is so hard because the UK embassy in Russia is not open every day.

“It will not stop them getting a visa, I hope they will be here next season. I have a contract for two years.

“It is so hard because my daughter is two and I only see her on FaceTime. But I am a professional football player and I understand it’s my work. On the pitch I only think about football.

“It’s a great feeling to be making my debut and I’m ready for the game.”

Konovalov spoke little English when he arrived, but he has picked up the language with the help of his fellow goalkeeper, Pole Max Stryjek.

“I am not learning English, just listening and trying to speak,” he said.

“The first words I learned were for the pitch. The goalie coach, Stuart Garden, helped me with what I need to say to defenders.

“Max knows the Russian language and, if I don’t understand, I ask Max and he helps me.”

Stryjek is suspended for Saturday’s game but manager David Martindale was going to leave him out anyway to prepare Konovalov for his anticipated role as number one next season.

“I have had huge amount of interest in Max, three or four clubs have shown major interest,” Martindale said.

“Having Max in the building has allowed Ivan to have that adaptation period where he wasn’t just getting thrown into games.

“I know Max has got his two-game ban, but, to be perfectly honest, whether he had a ban or not, Ivan was starting on Saturday.

“I don’t think Max will be here next year and I need to get Ivan some game time, but I am very, very comfortable with him. He has fitted in really well and he is more than capable of playing for Livingston.”

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