With Augustin out it’s Tyler Roberts time to really shine
12 Jun 2020 09:10 am, by YorkshireSquare
The signing of Tyler Roberts from West Brom back in January 2018 was a bit of a coup, even if it went a bit under the radar at the time with everything else going on at the club. A ‘bright academy prospect’ he hadn’t got too many chances at West Brom but promised a bright future ahead of him after successful loan spells at Shrewsbury and Walsall. The Welsh national team were also tracking his progress closely having featured for them at youth level. Roberts had hoped to hit the ground running at Leeds but an injury he was suffering from kept him out of the Cardiff match. A fractured shin bone picked up in training then meant the young striker missed out on the rest of the season and Leeds United post season tour of Myanmar.
It wasn’t until July 2018 that he kicked a ball, a very frustrating time for a young player. Roberts featured in Leeds pre-season campaign, netting against former club Oxford but come the start of the Championship season opportunities were limited again. With Kemar Roofe in the form that he is in and Patrick Bamford proving more than adequate backup he may have been worrying about where his chances would come aside from a few cup and substitute appearances out wide. But with injuries to Bamford and Roofe in a short space of time Roberts would get his chance. The young striker got into good positions against Millwall without scoring but against Preston he really took his chance with two goals. The first a lovely lobbed finish after a ball over the top from Kalvin Phillips, the second what looked like an easy header after some great interplay left him in acers of space.
In March last year he stepped into the No 10 role, a position that had caused Marcelo Bielsa issues since the departure of Samu Saiz. Roberts showed what he was capable of with two assists for Patrick Bamford. Unfortunately, injury stuck again and Roberts missed the final stages of the season including the play-offs. A promising partnership with Patrick Bamford had been showing signs of developing but it was not to be with Roberts yet again missing the start of a campaign. Knee surgery in May kept him out until the Charlton game in September when he made an appearance as a 69th minute substitute. The next game against West Brom would see him come at half time only to be famously substituted after just half an hour.
His disappointment was clear but Bielsa was keen to let everyone know what high regard he held Roberts in. Five games later, even with Hernandez returning from injury, Bielsa gave Roberts the nod in the No 10 position against QPR and the rewards came. Roberts was central to most of the good things Leeds were doing in attack, his link up play with Harrison particularly creating chances. Indeed, Harrisons ball through to Roberts gave the young Welshman his first goal since last October after his first time shot nestled into the back of the net. Had it not been for a rather questionable offside flag Roberts would have grabbed an assist of his own as his cross was headed into the goal by Patrick Bamford.
Roberts really showed what he can do just a couple of weeks before the season was curtailed, scoring twice as Leeds United thrashed Hull City 4-0. His movement brightened up the Leeds attack, just after the 80-minute mark he received the ball from a Stuart Dallas clearance. Breaking past the halfway line he played the ball out to Costa who passes cross field to Klich in space. Klich played the ball back into the middle of the area and Roberts beat Dallas to the ball to fire home Leeds third goal. Three minutes later Klich was provider again this time Roberts diving header saw the ball loop into the net with George Long helpless to do anything about it. Roberts looked euphoric after his second goal, a real boost in confidence for a fine young player coming back from a bad injury.
His movement, defensive work and finishing were exceptional and a real reminder of how Leeds United can put teams to the sword when they put away their chances. The news that Jean-Kévin Augustin is likely to miss the remainder of the season is a blow, but if Roberts can hit the form he was showing in February then he could be an even more exiting prospect for the final nine games.