MATT Baker has headed to the land of his mother to get a crash course in men’s football.

The 20-year-old is set to feature for Newport County AFC against promotion-chasing Bradford City at Rodney Parade in League Two this afternoon.

It will be a seventh appearance for the promising prospect since he arrived on loan from Stoke City in January.

The Championship club were keen for the defender to get a first prosper taste of senior football and the Exiles jumped at the chance to bring him in after Declan Drysdale’s knee injury left them short at the back.

Baker is a Wales Under-21 international whose mother Sandra hails from Narberth, with the family often visiting Pembrokeshire from Kent when he was younger.

Now he has headed to Gwent for an eye-opening experience in the fourth tier.

South Wales Argus: Matt Baker defending for Newport County at HartlepoolMatt Baker defending for Newport County at Hartlepool (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“I’ve had a few games to see what it is like and it is a good experience,” said Baker, who was signed by Stoke from Gillingham. “I am really enjoying it and want to keep on improving.

“I just want to reach my highest potential, playing for Newport is part of the dream of being a professional and I will take each step as it comes.

“The coaching staff have been class and everyone puts in 100 per cent every training session, so as soon as I came I knew I had to be on top of my game straight away.”

Baker broke into the County side as a defensive midfielder but slotted back to his favoured central defensive position at Grimsby in midweek.

With Drysdale back from an operation and closing in on a return, the young prospect is happy to slot in wherever he is told – “midfield was new for me but I’ll go where the gaffer wants me” – and get stuck in.

As you would expect of a young man who only left his teens last month, Baker is slight but he doesn’t want to be a pushover in League Two.

“Everyone talked about the physical side of things before I even got here,” said the defender, who could go up against the imposing Andy Cook this afternoon.

“I am always in the gym looking to get stronger anyway, I am prepared for it and love a good tackle. The physicality doesn’t scare me.”