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Baker believes a better balance benefits Ilkeston

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Ilkeston skipper Matt Baker believes the side has a better ‘balance’ this season thanks to a mix of youth and experience.

The defender could probably fit in either category for the Robins, at just 22 years of age but with well over 100 appearances under his belt.

He’s enjoying life at the New Manor Ground under boss Paul Holland, appointed in May, and believes the rest of the squad feel the same.

“We’ve got lots of games coming thick and fast at the moment, which is good,” he said.

“If we can get on a run we’ll pick up momentum, that’s what we’d like.

“I think everyone in the squad is enjoying working with Paul.

“He’s got new ideas and ways of training.

“We’ve had a lot of new players so it’s about adapting to his style.

“We’ve picked up some good results which I think shows things are working here.”

Half of Holland’s squad are full-time players, youngsters who are learning their trade, and the rest are part-time, players with other jobs away from the New Manor Ground.

Baker insists there’s no split in the camp between those training together every day and those who join up with the squad a few times a week.

“It’s good because it allows the young lads to keep training and developing and the older lads can work and still play,” he said.

“It’s been a challenge, but the older lads when we do come in and train together tend to work on set plays and important things.

“We have a good group, I don’t think it’s been an issue so far.”

Despite his tender years, Baker is enjoying his role as captain.

He sees it as his responbility to support the teenagers just starting to find their feet in men’s football.

“I’ve enjoyed it better than last season, we seem to pick up more results,” he said.

“I enjoy the responsibility, I’ve been keen to do it since I was asked last season.

“I’m just trying to help the younger lads coming through.”

According to Baker, the relative youth of the Ilkeston squad has its advantages, but so does the inclusion of older heads who have been around a while.

He said: “We are quite young but that allows us to progress together.

“The younger lads coming through can see there’s a pathway, they can make it to the first team.

“It gives us a lot of energy, but the balance is a bit better this year, we have a bit more experience with players like Luke Foster, which is crucial in this league.”

Baker and Ilkeston will travel to Marine on Saturday, before hosting Spennymoor Town next Tuesday night.

November will see them play eight fixtures, having played eight last month in a hectic period thanks to their delayed start to the season.

The Robins crashed out of the FA Trophy last weekend at the hands of Evo-Stik Northern Premier League rivals Barwell – see page 45 for the full story and Holland’s reaction.