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Confident Baker: I'm improving all the time alongside Vlaar
Nathan Baker thrilled with flourishing partnership with Ron Vlaar.
19th Mar 2014
Confident Baker: I'm improving all the time alongside Vlaar


Brown

Nathan Baker says he's improving and maturing all the time with the help of experienced Dutch international Ron Vlaar.

Baker's growing confidence is only too evident.

The academy graduate, who turns 23 next month, signed a new three-year contract in the summer after making 30 league and cup appearances in 2012-13.

And he is on course to pass that figure this time around, having been involved in 23 games so far this season.

It would have been more, too, but for the ankle injury he suffered in the 3-1 opening day success at Arsenal, a setback that kept him out of action for more than a month.

Sixteen of his appearances have been alongside Vlaar - and he acknowledges the benefits of having such an experienced centre-back partner.

"Playing alongside Ron Is a big help," he said.

"He's a full international and he helps me, both in training and in games.

"He's a leader, a great skipper, an excellent defender and I feel like I'm learning all the time alongside him in the back four.

"And playing against the likes of Gabby, Christian and Andi in training is also a big help because they have such power and pace.

"Ron and I have developed a good understanding and it would be good to put a few more clean sheets together now.

"If we can do that, or restrict the opposition to just one, there's always a chance of winning.

"For me, it's been a step up from last season and I think I'm improving all the time. Hopefully I can keep learning.

"It's great that I'm being picked at the moment and I can't ask for much more. I want to build on that. The more I play, the happier I will be."

While he is enjoying his current run in the side, though, Baker is fully aware that his long-time pal Ciaran Clark is itching for a recall - and that the competition will intensify still further once Dane Jores Okore is back to full fitness.

"Ciaran and I grew up together through the academy and we have always been good friends," he added.

"We always support each other when one of us is playing and the other isn't.

"For the past few weeks I've been the one in the team but things can always change.

"When you're out of the side you always have to be ready in case you get a call and I'm sure Ciaran will be waiting for his chance.

"But I'm not looking to step down. It's great to be in the team and that's what I'm here for. It's what I want to carry on doing.

"The more competition we have, though, the better. It keeps you on your toes."

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