Matt Baker is determined to make the most of his Wales chance after a football journey that began on a Pembrokeshire beach during summer holidays.

Maidstone-born Baker’s mother Sandra hails from Narberth and the Stoke defender often spent summer days playing football at nearby Tenby.

“I used to go down there as a kid, playing football on the beach in Tenby,” said Baker, who is currently on loan at Newport and set to line-up for Wales in their under-21 friendly with Scotland in Pinatar on Sunday.

“I’ve still got family in Pembrokeshire and I go down there whenever I can.

“Playing for Newport makes it a lot easier and they are proud of me playing for a Welsh team.”

Baker has made nine appearances for Newport since leaving the Potteries in January and joining the League Two outfit on loan.

The 20-year-old has broadened his options in south Wales by playing in midfield as well as filling his usual defensive role.

He said: “Going out on loan is what I needed to do. I want to play in the Football League where on a Saturday or Tuesday everybody is fighting for three points.

“I’ve loved every minute at Newport and it’s helped me with sides of the game you don’t get in under-21s football.”

Wales have been drawn against Denmark, Lithuania, Iceland and the Czech Republic.

Baker said: “It’s a tough group but we definitely think we can top it.

“We’ve used this camp to improve and get ready for the summer.”

Matty Jones’ Wales side are using the Scotland friendly in Spain as preparation for the UEFA U21 European Championship 2025 qualifiers, which start in June.

“With loans, we have some wonderful experiences,” said Jones. “Matty Baker moves from Stoke to Newport with an expectation he is going to play.

“He is on the phone to me the first weekend saying I can’t believe I am not playing. I said I can’t believe you are saying that – don’t expect anything.

“You are going there to make a real good impact and impression. That may take weeks to convince the manager so make sure the behaviour is right and make sure the reaction to news is right. All the things we have been pretty clear with.

“It is nice to be on the phone to support these lads and they have wonderful coaches at their clubs as well to give them the same advice. It is nice every now and then to hear a different voice.”

In recent seasons County have helped in the development of Swansea duo Brandon Cooper and Ollie Cooper, with the latter’s time in Newport helping him star in the Championship and earn a first senior Wales call.

“I think that can be the making or breaking of a player in terms of how they react to certain scenarios - not just about performance but as human beings,” said former Leeds and Leicester midfielder Jones.

“We play a big part in terms of trying to support the players. They have fantastic coaches around them who I am sure are giving them the same advice.

“We just explain it from a different dynamic. The biggest thing about players going out on loan, a lot of them reach out to me.

“That just boosts the relationship I have with the players and that we are doing something right as an association.

“They trust they can lean on us and come for lots of different advice and guidance to support them in their loans and the successes and failures they have.”