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Opposition view: Bannan - Why Baker will be a big player this season

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Opposition view: Bannan - Why Baker will be a big player this season

Barry Bannan is confident Nathan Baker can become a focal part of Roberto Di Matteo’s Villa team.   

The Bodymoor Heath Academy graduate will lock horns with his former team-mate as the two sides go head-to-head at Hillsborough on Sunday. 

Bannan was part of the class of 2008 – winners of the Premier Academy League title, as well as featuring for the reserve team as they clinched the Premier Reserve League South.

Defender Baker was a year younger than the Scotsman but regularly represented the older age groups. 

After leaving for Crystal Palace in 2013, a loan spell at Bolton Wanderers soon followed and now Bannan is delighted to be firmly settled in South Yorkshire. 

The midfielder enjoyed a fine debut season in the Championship with the Owls in 2015/16, narrowly missing out on promotion.

And he believes defender Baker has all the attributes to have a key impact this term. 

Bakes has got experience in the Championship. He could be a massive player for Villa this season. Barry Bannan on Nathan Baker

He said: “I remember playing against Bakes last year when he was at Bristol City.

“He did very well - as I always knew he would. 

“With Villa now in the Championship, Bakes has got experience in the league.

“He could be a massive player for Villa this season. 

“Bristol City were decent last season. I know they only just stayed up but they were building and Bakes was a massive part of that. I think he suited their style.

“He did really well when he went down there and that experience will stand Villa in really good stead this season as they push for promotion.

“I think Bakes will have a really big season at Villa.”

BannanMainDespite an obvious affection for the claret and blues Bannan insists he will treat the weekend game the same as any other league fixture. 

He added: “I still live in Birmingham and all my mates are Villa fans but to be honest it won’t feel any different to playing any other team. 

“I’ve been back to Villa Park already with Crystal Palace and that was a bit strange.

“It would have been a lot different if all my mates were still there.

“I only know a couple of the lads there still. 

“I feel happy and settled here at Wednesday.

“It’s a lot easier when you’re winning games which we have been doing.

“It’s probably the most I’ve enjoyed my football since being in the academy at Villa.”

By @AVFCOfficial 3rd August 2016