Sheffield Wednesday: Ash Baker hungry for more Owls game time
Playing in Wednesday's Championship season finale against Norwich City has whetted Ash Baker's appetite to stay in Jos Luhukay's first-team squad.
The Welshman made his senior bow last Sunday as the Owls thrashed the Canaries 5-1 at a raucous Hillsborough.
After a shaky start, Baker, deployed on the right flank, grew in stature as the contest wore on.
Now his aim is to give Luhukay a tricky selection dilemma in the wing-back position.
“It was a shame Norwich was the last game,” Baker told The Star. “It has given me a taste and I just want more now.
“I want to kick on again now.
“I would like to think I can become a permanent member of the first-team squad. I will go come back for pre-season, work hard and go again.”
The 21-year-old was informed the day before the Norwich encounter he would be featuring.
He said: “We had shape work during the week. I was in an out of the starting eleven but I was involved in the set pieces on the Saturday so I had a rough idea I might start.”
Was Baker nervous?
“Sitting in the changing room, I was just in my own place and thinking about the game,” said the former Cardiff City defender.
“I was thinking about good things on the Saturday night.
“As soon as we kicked off, I just relaxed. Obviously, I had a shaky first two minutes but other than that I enjoyed it.
“It was the best feeling in the world.
“I had waited a long time for that moment. I had been on the bench a number of times so it was great to get out there and play. I didn’t want to come off!”
Wednesday’s senior players helped Baker acclimatise to his new surroundings, offering him plenty of support and encouragement.
“I had the experienced players like Baz [Barry Bannan] talking to me all game,” said Baker, who signed a contract extension last month. “I listened to them and they helped me through it.”
He has also paid tribute to Luhukay, pictured right.
Baker said: “I want to thank the boss for giving me a chance.
“He is not scared to put anyone in.
“If he thinks your good enough, he will put you in without a second thought.”
Luhukay has shown a willingness to put his trust in youth, giving run-outs to the likes of Baker, Jordan Thorniley and Frederik Nielsen.
“It has given us all a boost,” conceded Baker. “There is a pathway now and it has given everyone a big boost.”
Meanwhile, winger Ben Hughes has agreed his maiden pro deal. Hughes, who finished the 2017/18 campaign as the Owls’ Under-18s’ top-scorer, put pen-to-paper on a one-year contract today.
Academy manager Steven Haslam said: “Since Ben started his scholarship, he has really matured as a person and developed as a player as well.
“Obviously the offer of a professional contract is reward and recognition of his progress.
“Hopefully, as with all the other young players, he sees the opportunity that’s in front of him, grasps it, buys into everything that we are trying to get from the players and goes on to the next level and beyond.”