LEWIS Baker is backing John Swift to play a key role in Reading FC’s survival battle.

Baker has identified his former Chelsea teammate as a vital component in Jose Gomes’ squad over the final 12 games.

Royals – backed my around 1,600 fans – travel to Ipswich Town tomorrow (3pm ko) with only goal difference keeping them out of the relegation zone.

And Blues loanee Baker believes Swift could have a major say in the result at Portman Road and others to follow.

“Swifty is an important player of the club,” said Baker, 23. “ He’s had fantastic seasons in the past and I think he can reach the top level of the game.

“He’s doing well for us at the moment and if we keep him fit he will definitely be an important player for us for the rest of the season.”

Baker also revealed how he and Swift were ultra competitive during their early days at Chelsea.

“When I joined I knew a few players at Reading like John Swift,” he explained. “We played together in youth team games. I’ve also played against a few of them so there are some familiar faces here.

“There were a lot of times in the Chelsea youth teams when we would see who could score the most goals and stuff. I think I scraped that one as well.

“He still owes me dinner that I never had, I just want to throw that out there. It’s been a few years now and anywhere would do.

“But he’s a good mate of mine. There is a competitive edge because I want him to be at his best and he wants me to be at mine. If we keep pushing each other in training we can only play better in games.”

Reading Chronicle:

Reading FC midfielder, John Swift.

Baker has experienced both ends of the Championship spectrum this season.

He started it with a loan move to title-challengers Leeds United, but returned to Chelsea after 11 appearances before joining relegation-threatened Royals on loan in January.

He added: “There is a difference between the atmospheres a little bit. For me it wasn’t a problem to change from top to the bottom, it’s more about me personally and what I want to achieve.”

Royals were held to a 1-1 home draw by Rotherham United in last weekend’s relegation six-pointer.

And Baker admits every game from here on comes under the ‘must-win’ category.

“Personally I want to win every game and that is the team spirit we’ve got here,” he continued. “We won’t roll over and give points away, we will fight for every point, it’s the business end of the season.

“I believe we will stay up one hundred per cent because of the way we can play. We have to try and keep scoring goals and keep them out and this squad has the ability to do that.

“There’s real quality in the side and like I said before if we stick to the way we’ve been playing we have the ability to stay up.

“Given the time of the season now, nearly every game is must-win, especially with the position we are in. Every game from now until the end of the season is important.

“Maybe Ipswich is even more important than the Rotherham game. Rotherham was a really good chance to get a few points ahead. Now we’re still here we will definitely be going there to get the win.”