Former Chelsea man Lewis Baker's impressive performance against Fulham adds hope to Potters' play-off hopes
Photo by Malcolm Couzens

At 26 years of age, it has been a difficult career up to now for midfielder Lewis Baker who during his long spell at Chelsea only played for the club twice and went on to play for eight different clubs on loan in seven years.

Baker's good start to life as a Potter

However, the Chelsea academy graduate has finally decided to move on after 16 years and has joined Championship outfit Stoke City on a permanent basis.

On Saturday at home to top of the table Fulham, Baker made his first start for the Potters and certainly made an impression with a standout display in the middle of the park topped off by a stunning strike from distance that levelled the game up at 2-2.

Stoke did go on to lose the game 3-2 thanks to a Bobby Reid hit with 18 minutes to go, but Baker's performance will surely provide fans with optimism that Michael O'Neill has recruited a player that could prove influential as his side hunt for a spot in the play-offs.

O'Neill pleased with Baker's start

Despite the unlucky defeat on Saturday, the former Northern Ireland boss was very pleased and encouraged by the midfielder's performance as he felt that he looked the best player on the pitch.

"I thought he was brilliant throughout the game,” he said.

We knew we were bringing through a player of real pedigree, of calibre because of his background.

"I think we are getting Lewis at the best time as a permanent player because sometimes when you are a loan player as he has been for four years it is difficult.

“But I thought he looked physically as good as any player on the pitch, technically as good as any player on the pitch.

"For that to be his first real first-team game this season in terms of 90 minutes, I thought he was terrific."

Baker comes into a side that is hit with injuries in the midfield areas with Jordan Thompson, Romaine Sawyers and Nick Powell all currently out.

Although, if the 26-year-old can consistently put in the kind of performance that he did at the weekend, there is no doubt that the Potters will be in a strong position come the end of the season, especially when the likes of Powell and Thompson do make their return to action.