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Baptiste is ready to go again after knee injection

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Alex Baptiste says he is ready and raring to start the 19th season of his professional career.

The 35-year-old defender proved a vital figure in Wanderers’ promotion campaign and has just signed a new 12-month deal with the club.

The former Blackpool, Middlesbrough and QPR man is already preparing himself for the rigours of a season in League One – and he admits the job is getting tougher as time goes on.

“I’m feeling okay,” he said. “The thing with getting older is that you can’t really stop so I had to have an injection in my knee the other day – but I haven’t really stopped, I’m in the gym, running once every two days.

“If I was 24 or 25 I wouldn’t be doing anything until the start of June. I’ll still be middle to the back of the group when we get running again.

“You know there will be days when it’s raining and you just don’t want to but as you get older it’s more mental than physical.

“It will be nice getting back to pre-season because it’s hard running on your own but the body is OK, my knee is OK, and it’s just getting ready to get back to the football and start again."

Baptiste has been a big influence at Wanderers since returning for a second spell to help his former Blackpool team-mate Ian Evatt last summer.

His presence has also been a major factor in the rise of Ricardo Santos last season – with the centre-back sweeping the club’s awards after playing every minute of their League Two success.

“I’ve gone on record numerous times to say he was the best player in this league,” Baptiste said. “I don’t see any weaknesses in his game and why he can’t go higher to Championship or Premiership level.

"He has been fantastic all season and it’s really pleasing for me to see him grow as a person and as a football player. He has got all the attributes you want as a centre-half – he can add goals in the other box – but in ours he has everything.

“I’m so happy for him, personally, to see where he has come from.

“He’s told me stories because we’re quite close, his family, he has a little boy, so to see him do so well for his family I am so happy for him.”

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