Nathan Baker; 25; 6’2″ 182lbs; second-choice central defender
Fellow Villa Academy graduate Nathan Baker comes in at number four on this list. Do not let that number get to you however; he could well prove to be in the team sheet week in and week out. Baker made a whopping thirty-nine appearances for Bristol City, on a season-long loan, last year in the Championship.
That experience in the second division, coupled with Clark’s pre-season absence, could be the reason Baker has seen so much friendly action paired with Tommy Elphick. Nathan Baker is a true last ditch central defender–excelling at blocking shots and clearing danger in the air. Don’t mistaken him as a graceful player on the pitch, his rough qualities are made for the lower leagues of English football.
Not much separates Villa’s first four central defenders. In terms of quality, they are almost 1A through 1D. How Roberto Di Matteo chooses to utilize his defenders will be something to look out for the early part of the year. Three of the four (Okore, Clark, and Baker) perpetually face the injury bug throughout the course of a season. Rotation, and keeping these four fit could prove paramount for management.
Next: Lescott & Toner