Jack Baldwin: From zero to hero in a matter of two months

Jack Baldwin (left) proved to be a big hit with Posh fans last season. Photo: Joe Dent/www.theposh.com
Jack Baldwin (left) proved to be a big hit with Posh fans last season. Photo: Joe Dent/www.theposh.com
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Jack Baldwin didn’t want last season to end and not just because Peterborough United came within a match of the League One play-off final at Wembley.

The 21 year-old central defender moved from Hartlepool to London Road in the last moments of the January transfer window for an eye-popping £500,000 amid fanfares that included comparisons to Alan Hansen, one of the greatest central defenders of all-time.

But his debut on March 1 was a disaster as he conceded a penalty just minutes after arriving as a late substitute in a League One match at Crawley.

It could have been a long road back for a young player, but two months later he had Posh fans making pleasing comparisons with Ryan Bennett, another young lower league defender who raised his profile at London Road.

“I can imagine after my debut that the fans were wondering why on earth the club had signed me,” Baldwin admitted.

“I’d been patient waiting to see some action, but conceding a penalty in the last minute of my first appearance wasn’t what I had in mind.

“It was a tough time for me, but the management and my team-mates were very good to me. They picked me up quickly and happily by the end of the season I was showing what I was capable of on a more regular basis.

“It is tough moving to a different club halfway through a season, but I’m fully settled down here now and I am excited about the new season.

“We were disappointed to miss out on promotion last season so now we are on a mission to get back to the Championship.

“No-one wants to hang around in League One for too much longer.”

Baldwin looks like he will be a key player in the forthcoming campaign.

He impressed the Posh staff as well as the club’s fans with his mature, disciplined displays in the play-off semi-final matches against Leyton Orient - the two highest-pressure games of a career that started with an unsuccessful trial at Gillingham and a season with Faversham Town before he chose a first professional contract at Hartlepool over a sports-related course at Kent University.

Posh boss Darren Ferguson expects Baldwin to forge a successful partnership with Gaby Zakuani at the heart of his defence.

“Gaby and Ryan Bennett were outstanding together for us,” Ferguson stated.

“And I see Jack as a similar player to Ryan.

“Gaby is an out-and-out defender who will win the ball, while Jack is comfortable in possession as well being good in the air and a strong tackler.

“We had a lot of central defenders on our books last season and when Gaby left us it was a good move for both parties. But towards the end of the season we certainly missed his leadership skills on and off the pitch.

“I expect him to be the ideal partner for Jack.”

They are encouraging words for Baldwin, but he is taking nothing for granted.

He added: “I know what Gaby has done for the club so I look forward to playing with him, but I have to make sure I do enough to be selected first.

“There are a lot of good players at the club and they will all want to play in the first team.

“It’s certainly a squad I believe is capable of challenging for promotion.”

Have your Posh say: by emailing alan.swann@peterboroughtoday.co.uk, or on Twitter @PTAlanSwann or tweet using #PUFC

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