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David Martindale optimistic Russian can be a capable replacement for Max Stryjek

Max Stryjek could leave Livingston (Robert Perry/PA)
Max Stryjek could leave Livingston (Robert Perry/PA)

David Martindale believes Ivan Konovalov is equipped to become Livingston’s first-choice goalkeeper next term as he prepares for the likely departure of Max Stryjek this summer.

Russian Konovalov, who signed for the Lions in January, has made his first two starts for the club in the last couple of matches against Hibernian and St Johnstone while Pole Stryjek served a ban.

Martindale always intended to give his recent recruit some game time before the end of this season and now he must decide who wears the gloves for Wednesday’s cinch Premiership trip to St Mirren.

“I decided when Ivan came in the building that I was always going to give Ivan game time,” said the Lions boss.

“I said even before Max got suspended that he was always going to come into the team. I’ve still to make my mind up but he will potentially keep his place on Wednesday.

“I do believe Max is probably not going to be here because there is a good bit of interest so I’ve got to do what’s right for the squad and I think from what I’ve seen of Ivan, he’s more than capable of being the number one next season.

“He’s done OK in his two games so far. His distribution in the first game could have been better but I think the pace of Scottish football caught him out a little bit. In and around his area, defending his six-yard box, he’s been good and he’s made a couple of decent saves. I trust him.

“The more game time I can get into Ivan, the better it’s going to be for the squad next season.”

Stryjek is contracted to Livingston until the summer of 2023 but Martindale has no intention of standing in the highly-regarded Pole’s way if the opportunity arises to move on to a bigger club.

“I’ve not had any concrete bids for Max so we’re still a good bit off in terms of Max leaving the building but there have been enquiries via agents and other clubs,” said the manager. “I’ve not really spoken to Max about it.

“But the unique selling point for anyone who comes into our club is to try and get themselves a move to England or to the Old Firm, or failing that, to the Edinburgh two or Aberdeen, where the wages are substantially more than you’re going to get at Livingston. Everybody who comes here uses us a stepping stone.”

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