Nathan Baker not resting on his laurels after earning new Aston Villa deal

Nathan Baker and Ryan Mason

The 24-year-old centre-back has penned a new four-year deal at the club.

Aston Villa defender Nathan Baker is determined to use his new contract as motivation to break into Tim Sherwood’s first choice XI.

Baker, 24, was speaking to Villa’s official website after committing his future to the club until 2018, despite recently being linked with a £2 million move to Championship side Burnley [h/t Daily Mail].

The former trainee, who joined Villa at the age of 13, rose through the ranks to earn his first-team debut in 2011 and has since made 88 appearances across all competitions for the Midlands outfit.

 Premier League SeasonErrors Lead To GoalTotal Tackles MINSTackle AccuracyTotal Clearances MINSHeaders Won MINSHeader SuccessInterceptions MINSPassing AccuracyAppearancesMins Played
Nathan Baker 2011-2012 1 50 64% 9.48 30.56 64.29% 91.67 59% 8 550
Nathan Baker 2012-2013 1 42.83 60% 8.49 22.37 62.94% 34.71 78% 26 2,013
Nathan Baker 2013-2014 1 85.45 72% 11.69 24.78 53.76% 55.07 69% 30 2,478
Nathan Baker 2014-2015 0 54.5 71% 7.48 20.62 58.73% 42.39 77% 11 763

His claret and blue career has been an up-and-down one so far, however, having drawn a sizeable amount of criticism from fans for his inconsistent showings during the 2013-14 campaign, when he featured 30 times in the Premier League.

He began last season on the bench as a result but soon found himself deputising for the injured Ron Vlaar at Liverpool and put in a heroic performance alongside new signing Philippe Senderos to help Paul Lambert’s men record a 1-0 win.

The former England Under-21 international would go on to start four of the following seven matches but then began suffering recurring knee problems from November onwards which resulted in him making just four further appearances over the rest of the season.

With new boss Sherwood now revamping the Villa squad in his first transfer window in charge, Baker was reported to be one of those who could be heading for the exit door, with a switch to Turf Moor said to have been in the works.

Those rumours proved to be unfounded in the end, though, and, while the centre-back recognises that competition for defensive places is going to be fierce moving forward, he remains determined to carve out a regular role in the line-up.

"I feel I have progressed and I feel I can carry on getting better here in claret and blue,” Baker told "I am determined to impress the gaffer and get in that side.

"The competition is going to be fierce here at centre-half but that's what the gaffer wants. There's a lot of choice for him. But you can't do well as a club without competition for places."

Though former skipper Vlaar has since departed, Baker still faces a struggle to unseat either new arrival Micah Richards or Ciaran Clark from the starting line-up, while Jores Okore is also expected to be above him in the pecking order once the Dane returns to full fitness following a summer knee operation.

The experienced Senderos could even see some minutes ahead of him this season but, at the same time, with none of his positional rivals none for their gleaming fitness records, there might still be a few opportunities for him to see some extended action.

If he does not impress in those circumstances, though, then it is hard to envisage him seeing out the end of his contract given Sherwood’s desire to trim the deadwood from the squad.

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