Cambridge United manager Colin Calderwood is not afraid to try young loan players in his League Two side.
Last season he borrowed Rushian Hepburn-Murphy as the U’s battled for survival in the basement division and he’s been calling in the favours from his former clubs once more.
This year he’s added attacker Jack Roles to his squad. The winger is a product of the Spurs academy and represents Cyprus at youth level. He’s on his first senior placement and is one of the players earmarked for a big future with the top flight side.
Have his first few outings suggested he’s destined for better things? Our latest spotlight piece attempts to find out.
Roles is an attacking midfielder, able to play behind the main striker. He’s comfortable on the ball, as you’d expect players of his upbringing to be, but League Two is not a forgiving place for technical gifted young footballers. There are a lot of hard defenders at the level and time and the ball is a luxury few are afforded.
Roles could well have found himself struggling to adapt, but instead he’s doing incredibly well. He’s already bagged twice, including a stunning opener against Macclesfield this weekend in a 2-2 draw. He’s played eight games in total and has already stood out as a class above the rest of the U’s squad.
Arguably, he’s having more impact than Hepburn-Murphy did last season, seemingly a little more creative without the responsibility for scoring goals on his shoulders.
He’s showing all the technical attributes that a young player from a top flight club would be expected to. His passing is unnervingly accurate, he’s finding a teammate 79.9% of the time. That’s certainly the sort of average you’d expect any player to meet, but as a youngster in his first senior role, it’s impressive.
He’s also eager to move the ball forward, with dribbles and passes. He makes 7.43 passes into the final third per game and when he’s not passing, he’s looking to move it forward at his feet. He makes 6.82 dribbles per game and combined those numbers prove him to be an attack-minded midfielder who links two areas of the pitch well.
He’s exciting on the ball and keen to get crosses into the box, making 2.16 deliveries per match. With all his positive movement going forward it’s little surprise he assists 1.32 shots per game, although he hasn’t notched an assist in the yellow of Cambridge.
Jack Roles is certainly one for the future and his energetic, forward-thinking football has seen Cambridge rise above their usual position in the bottom six to challenge for a top six spot. There’s some way to go yet but if his teammates find the same level as him, he could be a key component in a surprise promotion push.