Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar praises Nathan Baker's Spurs showing

Nathan Baker and Ryan Mason

The centre-back replaced the injured Ciaran Clark in the first-half at White Hart Lane and went on to help his side earn a crucial 1-0 win.

Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar has hailed substitute Nathan Baker’s performance in the club’s 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Vlaar was speaking to AVTV after the match at White Hart Lane, where Villa went six points clear of the relegation zone with five Premier League games remaining thanks to Christian Benteke’s first-half header.

The Dutchman’s defensive showing proved crucial to the result but centre-back partner Baker also impressed on the afternoon after coming on in the 17th-mintue for the injured Ciaran Clark.

The former England Under-21 international impressed over the opening months of the season when deputising for Vlaar but, prior to this weekend, had made just one start in two appearances since spraining his knee in November’s 0-0 draw at West Ham United.

He showed little sign of rust against Tottenham, however, slotting seamlessly into the back-four and, with Clark now a serious doubt for next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final versus Liverpool, his skipper is confident that he will be able to handle the occasion.

“He was really good,” Vlaar said on Baker. “That also shows something about the mental belief in the squad. We speak about it a lot. It’s not about the individual – it’s about the whole team.

“To come on, when he hadn’t played for a long time – just briefly against Manchester United, and then give that performance is really good.

“Beating Tottenham at their place is massive for us and also a great boost for next week’s FA Cup semi-final,” he continued. “That’s something we can all look forward to now.

“We know the situation in the league – we still have to get more points to get out of trouble but now can build on this win with the confidence to play a great semi-final next week.”

Like Baker, Vlaar has had his own fitness problems this season, having seen calf and knee injuries restrict him to just 16 total appearances.

The Spurs match was his second consecutive start since missing six weeks of action, however, and the experienced defender is now eager to make up for lost time during the final stages of the campaign.

“It’s been a frustrating season to be honest and I’m really happy to be back,” he added. “I want to stay fit until the end of the season and play all of the games.

“It was hard for me today after 75 minutes but we had to get that win.”

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