Nathan Baker has been one of many Bristol City players struck down by injury this season.
Last week the central defender returned to training and featured for the U23s but new manager Nigel Pearson has indicated that the club will be very careful not to rush anyone back given the issues they’ve faced this term.
Baker has not featured since picking up a hamstring injury late in the 2019/20 campaign and supporters may be starting to wonder whether they’ll ever see him in a City shirt again.
The defender is one of more than 10 players that are out of contract in the summer and given his injury record in recent campaigns as well as his reported salary of £19,000 – making him the fifth-highest paid in the squad – you wonder whether his time in Bs3 is set to come to an end.
Having first joined on loan from Aston Villa, Baker signed permanently for the Robins in 2017 and has gone on to make 130 appearances for the club in total.
When fit, the man with Premier League pedigree has often proven a fan favourite for his no-nonsense style of defending and the warrior-like willingness to put his body on the line for his side.
You could argue that very willingness has been the source of his issues at Ashton Gate, however, as the frustration for City has been that he simply hasn’t been available enough over the past few years.
He played less than 1,000 Championship minutes in 2018/19 due to injury and he looks likely to play less than that this term.
Baker was imperious at times last term – averaging 6.4 interceptions, 5.06 clearances, and 12.24 recoveries per 90 (Wyscout) – and if City could guarantee that production moving forward then you feel handing him a new deal would be a no-brainer.
But the simple fact is that they can’t and in what could be a summer of change at Ashton Gate in Pearson’s first transfer window in charge, it seems as though the 29-year-old could well leave the club.