Lewis Baker aiming for the top after Dutch adventure

Sunday 11 Oct 2015
Lewis Baker is aiming to collect his first England Under-21s cap this week

England Under-21s midfielder Lewis Baker is hoping his Dutch adventure can help him in his aim to reach the top.

The Chelsea playmaker, currently on a season-long loan with Vitesse Arnhem in Holland, made his return to Gareth Southgate’s squad for the first time in a year last week, as the U21s met up to prepare for Tuesday’s game with Kazakhstan.

And the 20-year-old believes he returns to international duty a better player after the first few months of his spell in the Eredivisie with Vitesse.

England v Kazakhstan

UEFA European U21 Championship
Group 9 Qualifier
5.45pm, Tuesday 12 October 2015
Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Live on BT Sport
Click here for tickets

"I’m really enjoying it, the football is slightly different and is a lot more technical and tactical out there," he told TheFA.com

"When we play the bigger teams, it’s also a physical game and I think I’m going to learn a lot out there.

"I’ve already learned a lot in the first few months and hopefully that can increase and next season, I’ll return to Chelsea as a better player.

"The Eredivisie is a top league and I think it’s a good learning place for me, on the pitch and off the pitch, seeing different cultures and the way players live with the different playing styles. 

"It can all just help you as a professional and add little bits to your game."

Baker has made a good start to his spell with Vitesse and has become a first-team regular at the club, where he has also been joined by fellow Chelsea and England youngsters Dominic Solanke and Izzy Brown.

But he admits it has been important for all three of the players to make the most of their early days away from home and the opportunity they have been given.

Lewis Baker in action for Vitesse Arnhem

Lewis Baker is on loan at Vitesse Arnhem for the season from Chelsea

They all live separately during their time in Holland, so the loan move has been as much about life experience as well as football.

"We all live by ourselves, but in an area where we’re five minutes from each other and five minutes from the training ground," he revealed.

"And that’s what we’re there to do, concentrate on our football and become better players.

"It’s not been too bad for us, because everyone in Holland speaks English so off the pitch, we’re all coping very well and we try to do it on our own basis.

"But it’s helped having the three of us out there because if anyone is feeling homesick, and Dom and Izzy are a bit younger than me, then we can all get together.

"We’ve all helped each other out in the few months that we’ve been there, sometimes there’s been good times and sometimes there’s been bad times but we’re all helping each other."

Luton-born Baker has been a regular for England over the years and it was while captaining the U20s last term when he received his first U21 call-up.

England U20s midfielder Lewis Baker.

Lewis Baker captained the U20s last season

That was for the Euro play-off win against Croatia, when England were hit by a few injuries, prompting Southgate into promoting the former Sheffield Wednesday and MK Dons loanee into his ranks.

And Baker says he is glad to be back in the squad, where he’s now joined by a number of his former squad-mates from previous England age groups and some of last season's team.

"It’s been good to see the boys again and in the week that I’ve been here so far since coming last year, I’ve really enjoyed it," he said, as preparations for Tuesday’s game at the Ricoh Arena continue at St. George’s Park.

Watch Lewis Baker speak to FATV following his first England U21s call-up

"I know a lot of the lads from previous England age groups and also from watching their games on the TV.

"They always make you feel welcome and it’s just normal to be back with the squad.

"The good thing is, there is a lot of talent here and it’s very competitive in training.

"That can only help the squad, to bring the best out of each other."

Tickets for the game at the Ricoh Arena on Tuesday 13 October are on sale now, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. Click here or call 024 7678 6411 to get yours.

By Nicholas Veevers at St. George's Park