Lewis Baker hoping for slick surface in Brighton

Sunday 15 Nov 2015
Lewis Baker has started both of England Under-21s' last two Euro Qualifiers

Lewis Baker hopes home comforts can help England Under-21s return to winning ways on Monday evening.

The Three Lions go into their Euro Qualifier with Switzerland in Brighton after being held to a draw on the road by Bosnia-Herzegovina last Thursday.

But after returning from Sarajevo to East Sussex for their final match of 2015, the on-loan Vitesse Arnhem playmaker says the squad can’t wait to get out on a slicker surface at the Amex Stadium, where they know a win would put them in a commanding spot in their qualifying group.

England v Switzerland

UEFA European U21 Championship
Group 9 Qualifier
5.45pm, Monday 16 November 2015
Amex Stadium, Brighton
Live on BT Sport
Tickets: 0844 327 1901

"We’re going into the game looking to get three points at home," he said. 

"It’s going to be on a good pitch and hopefully we can play the way we like to.

"The pitch wasn’t the best out there [Sarajevo], but we can’t give excuses, we went there to win the game and it was difficult.

"It was a bit of a fight, but we managed to get a result out of it.

"We want to finish top of the group, that’s the main aim and hopefully we can do that on Monday."

Baker, who has joined Vitesse for the whole season from Chelsea, has been a regular for England over the years and capped at every level up to U21s.

And he was picked out by Blues boss Jose Mourinho last season as a potential future star for both club and country, pressure which Baker is relishing.

England Under-21s midfielder Lewis Baker trains in Sarajevo

Baker admits the pitch in Sarajevo made the game with Bosnia last week more difficult for England

"For someone like that to say it about me, it made me feel proud and gave me a bit of belief too," he revealed. 

"That’s what comes with this game, a bit of pressure is what’s expected.

"But I just need to carry on learning and working hard to try and prove to people that one day I can do it.

"You can learn a bit off everyone, a lot of these boys [in the U21s squad] have played in their first teams at Premier League clubs 

"I’ve learnt a lot so far, Gareth [Southgate] has helped me quite a bit since I’ve been in and also with the boys who train and play with their clubs every day.

"I’m learning a lot of tactical stuff, off the ball and the shape and on the ball, we all link very well.

"The next step for my development is to play more regular first-team football at a decent level."

And that’s something which he’s now finding in the Eredivisie, alongside fellow Stamford Bridge and England youngsters Dom Solanke and Izzy Brown.

With the added experience of playing in an overseas league to boot, Luton-born Baker believes it’s been the right move for him following spells with MK Dons in League One and Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship last term.

Watch Baker and his squad-mates training in Sarajevo last week

"The Dutch league is good, it’s very technical and I’m learning a lot so it’s a step in the right direction for me," he admits.

"I've had to adapt my game to what the manager wants. And we are learning different systems and tactics.

"They want to play at a high tempo and I can see from previous video clips of how I used to play that my understanding of the game is improving.

"I'm talking about things such as my general awareness, when I can turn and play, when to pressure the opposition.

"Obviously, I want to continue my development. But I feel that I am learning out there - and, of course, I'm playing games which helps.

"My aim is to carry on learning and working hard, if I can have a good season, who knows what can happen next season?"

Tickets for Monday’s game cost £10 and £5 and are available via the Amex Stadium ticket office or by calling 0844 327 1901.

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels in Brighton