Wednesdayites should enjoy watching Lewis Baker’s development as a footballer while they can - as the midfielder is destined to strut his stuff on a regular basis at the highest level.
That is the message from crowd favourite Jose Semedo, who claims the Chelsea youngster is a more “complete player” than Everton and England international Ross Barkley.
Few Owls fans have forgotten the impact Barkley made in the two months he spent on loan at Hillsborough in the 2012/13 season. The attacking midfielder oozed class in the final third, scoring four times in 13 appearances.
But Baker, on loan from Chelsea until the end of the season, is also a big talent, according to Semedo.
“Lewis is amazing and he’s got a big future ahead of him,” he told The Star. “I don’t think he will be playing in the Championship for a long time.
“He reminds me a little bit of Ross Barkley but I think Lewis is a little more complete than him. Ross was great attacking wise whereas I think Lewis has got that balance of attack and defence. I have no doubt Lewis will be a top Premier League player.”
Baker, a graduate of Chelsea’s youth system, has featured three times for the Owls since joining Stuart Gray’s side just over three weeks ago, making his first start in their goalless draw with Birmingham City in midweek.
The England Under-20 international is highly regarded by the Blues’ coaching staff and Wednesday head coach Gray has tipped the teenager to emulate the likes of Barkley and Connor Wickham, who have flourished following temporary stints at the Championship club.
Semedo, who partnered Baker in the middle of the park against the Blues, said: “Lewis is so good on the ball. He can pass with both feet. He is a proper central midfielder.
“Lewis works hard and is good going forwards. He is a good kid who listens to what the manager and senior players tell him. He’s got all the qualities to be a top Premier League player.”
Tomorrow’s trip to Reading brings back happy memories for Semedo. He played as an emergency centre-back when the two sides last collided at the Madejski Stadium in February 2014, with the Owls recording a 2-0 victory thanks to a penalty by Chris Maguire and a strike by Benik Afobe.
“It is impossible not to remember that game,” said Semedo. “We signed a defender [Adedeji Oshilaja] on loan from Cardiff on the Friday but he was not allowed to play so I knew there was a possiblity I would have to play at centre-back. It is a position I had played before in my career when I was at Charlton.
“Glenn Loovens travelled with the squad and gave me advice. He was always talking to me and that really helped me stay focused.
“I played alongside Miguel Llera against Reading, who were in good form at the time. Their two strikers, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Adam Le Fondre, were scoring goals at the time so we knew it would be a difficult task.
“It was an unbelievable result for the team. It was a fantastic win and great to help the team keep a clean sheet.
“But that’s in the past now. We know it will be another tough game on Saturday because of the position Reading are in. We need the points and so do they.”
There is a lot at stake for Semedo over the coming months. His contract expires in the summer. The combative Portuguese player is determined to keep impressing Gray and earn a new deal, reiterating his desire to spend the rest of his career at the club.
“It would be a dream come true for me if I could retire at Sheffield Wednesday,” said the 30-year-old.
“I have found my true love.
“Sheffield Wednesday is a big club. For me, it is the perfect marriage.”
Semedo, who has played 133 times since joining Wednesday in the summer of 2011. added: “I don’t think about it (my contract). That is out of my control. I just want to carry on giving my best for the team and we will see what happens.”
READING (possible): Federici; Kelly, Hector, Pearce, Obita; Williams, Norwood, Chalobah, Robson-Kanu; Pogrebnyak, Blackman or Cox.
WEDNESDAY (possible): Westwood; Palmer, Lees, Loovens, Mattock; Maguire, Baker, Semedo, Maghoma; Keane, Nuhiu.
Brendan Malone: The Wiltshire whistler, a qualified referees’ assessor, has dished out 38 cautions and three red cards in 18 matches this season. It will be just the second time Malone, who progressed through the Salisbury and District, Wiltshire, Wessex and Western leagues, has officiated a Championship fixture during the 2014/15 campaign.