Baker hoping Pompey retain '˜class' defender

Carl Baker is hoping Pompey can retain the '˜class' of Enda Stevens.

Tuesday, 2nd May 2017, 6:01 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 8:19 pm
Enda Stevens celebrates scoring against Newport County. Picture: Joe Pepler

The left-back is on target to make his 99th Blues appearance in this weekend’s last-day clash with Cheltenham.

Out of contract in the summer, it remains to be seen whether it represents the Irishman’s farewell.

Stevens has indicated his preference to stay at Fratton Park, yet other clubs are also eyeing the in-form left-back – and with greater financial offers.

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The 26-year-old has been one of Paul Cook’s finest signings since arriving on a free transfer from Aston Villa in June 2015.

And Baker is keen for his team-mate to be retained for next season’s League One campaign.

‘Enda is class. He has been brilliant all season,’ said Baker.

‘You see players in this league who are good going forward or good defensively.

‘With Enda, I don’t know what his strength is, he does both so well.

‘He has a good career ahead of him. Hopefully it will be here next year because he will be a massive player for us in League One.

‘I’m sure the gaffer is aware of that and I’m sure Enda is one of the players he will definitely want to keep.

‘He has to be one of the best left-backs I have ever played with.

‘Defensively you always have that confidence that he’s going to stop crosses, while there are not many wingers who get the better of him.

‘Going forward he gives you so much. He has that quality in the final third, his engine gets him up and down. He’s a modern-day full-back.

‘I’m sure there will be other clubs looking at him and interested.

‘It has been great to see him named in the team of the season, which was fully deserved.

‘Sometimes you can have a good season and it goes unnoticed and you don’t get those accolades.’

By his own admission, Baker was unfamiliar with the talents of Stevens before arriving at Fratton Park last summer.

The midfielder had spent the 2015-16 campaign with MK Dons in the Championship, while the Irishman was enjoying his maiden south-coast campaign. And since brought together by Cook, Baker has been highly impressed.

He added: ‘I didn’t know a lot about Enda when I signed.

‘Doyler (Michael Doyle) had given me a run down of players here before I started and Enda was one he highlighted, saying he was a very good player.

‘I wasn’t too much aware of him, to be honest, but I’ve seen him get better and better.

‘The amount of effort he puts into his game is superb and he doesn’t really get any injuries or fatigue.’

n Paul Cook has been shortlisted for League Two manager of the month.

Keith Curle, Mike Flynn and Nathan Jones are also listed.