Writer: Mike Field
Date:Sunday April 8 2012
Alex McLeish has talked about the progress that Nathan Baker has made so far this season, and he thinks he's more than worthy of his place in the first team.
Speaking to the Birmingham Mail McLeish admits Baker's chance this season has come mainly because of injuries, but he's been impressed with what he's seen in training and on the pitch in the last few games.
It's like a wave of positivity has suddenly come over our manager as he says that it was an exercise in information when he first joined the club to find out about the 20 year defender:
'I didn't really know too much about Nathan, I spoke to the England coaches and I also spoke to Kevin MacDonald and Gordon Cowans about what level he was at and they felt Nathan still had an improvement to make before he could really challenge for a first team place.'
That improvement was obviously aided by his short loan spell at Millwall earlier in the season when he tasted further first team action, this time in the Championship, and by all accounts was pretty impressive for Kenny Jackett's boys - only returning early because of injury.
'As the season has evolved so has Nathan and in the last two or three months I've seen a big difference in him in terms of his aggression and he's become more solid in the air. He's very limpet like when marking and opposition players can't shake him off. When Carlos went down we felt that Nathan had made enough progress to be an automatic pick.'
Nathan himself is clearly loving life back in the first team, and in his preferred spot of centre half and his obvious target now is to impress enough and improve further so that when the seniors are fit he doesn't lose his place again.
'I am happy to have an opportunity to play having come through the ranks. I really enjoyed Chelsea, I was over the moon to be involved. The manager told me I'd been doing well in training and I was excited and determined to do well when I found out I was going to play. There is a chance (because of injuries) for me to impress the manager, I want to take that chance and do well.'
Baker continues to add that at the moment he's looking no further than simply establishing himself at Villa and being a regular starter. Once that's achieved he'll start looking at progressing through the England ranks and looking at silverware.
Seems Baker is starting to hit the right notes with fans after his recent performances - Nathan Baker Forum Thread.
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Date:Sunday April 8 2012
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