Huddersfield Town has been a refreshing place to be around at the start of the 2020/21 campaign. Results might have been up and down, but in Carlos Corberan there’s an upbeat figure taking every obstacle in his stride.
The positivity that came after beating Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday was brought to an abrupt end on Saturday, with Corberan watching on as AFC Bournemouth swept his Terriers aside. Positives? There was not one according to the usually upbeat head-coach.
A trip to the South Coast was always going to be tough, but this was a game that was hard to be positive about. Jason Tindall has built a wonderfully slick attacking side, who should be in the mix to return to the Premier League. For Huddersfield to get anywhere near their level at the moment, you feel everything has to click into place. Unfortunately for Corberan that didn’t happen and, with injuries pinching, his side looked beaten very early in the contest.
The absence of Josh Koroma was perhaps the thing that hurt Huddersfield most. The injury to the 22-year-old’s hamstring isn’t straightforward either. He’s had surgery and Corberan is expecting him out of action for three months.
Operation went well! Road to recovery starts now🙏🏽!
— Josh Koroma (@longlivejk11) December 12, 2020
Corberan’s response to the injury last week was to focus on who can replace Koroma immediately: Jaden Brown, Adama Diakhaby, Matty Daly and Juninho Bacuna were all named as solutions to this huge problem.
However, you feel something has to give going into the transfer window in the New Year. Koroma had scored six goals and been the driving force behind anything Huddersfield were doing. He needs replacing and there might be a solution just up the motorway at Elland Road in the form of Tyler Roberts.
Corberan’s connections at Leeds United led to fierce belief that he would raid the club’s under-23 set-up to bolster the squad he inherited at the John Smith’s Stadium, but that didn’t happen. The likes of Robbie Gotts, Jordan Stevens and Alfie McCalmont headed to a lower part of the EFL and those required by Marcelo Bielsa, simply, stayed put.
Roberts was never going to be on the move in the summer. Leeds’ options in attack are limited even with him around. Patrick Bamford leads the line, but when he doesn’t, Roberts does get his brief cameos. However, is that enough for a Welsh international trying to pitch himself for a leading role at Euro 2020?
To the naked eye, he needs to be playing more, which he would at Huddersfield. There’s not the attacking talent in Corberan’s squad to keep Roberts on the fringe like he is at Elland Road, particularly now Koroma is out of action.
Roberts has never been prolific in terms of goalscoring and he’s only scored seven times in his Leeds career. However, it must also be said that he’s never had the chance to be the leading man at the club. Given that chance, he’s got the quality to shine in a progressive Championship side; linking play, picking up clever positions and finishing clinically.
Champagne football. Champagne commentary.
— AGB (@BurnsAlfie) March 1, 2020
Another big reason why Roberts would be perfect for Huddersfield is the versatility he brings in attack. He can plug the gap Koroma leaves out wide, lead the line himself or play a touch deeper in a creative role. Corberan has seen the 21-year-old do that for Leeds and, given his own preference to look for fluidity between systems, he needs players of that ilk through the door at the John Smith’s.
That also opens another door for Roberts and Koroma to combine in the same side when the latter returns in 2021. Whilst serious, his injury isn’t season ending. Replacing him like-for-like won’t appeal to Corberan, but a stopgap with the flexibility to play elsewhere in the attack when he is available again will.
The challenge for Corberan would come in convincing Bielsa to free up Roberts, who stepped off the bench in Leeds’ defeat to West Ham on Friday. However, you can see how any loan deal would be beneficial to the Premier League side in terms of keeping Roberts happy and with enough game time to see him to the summer.
A player of Roberts’ quality plugs the gap Koroma has left and adds a bit more to this Huddersfield side’s attacking dimensions. He would still leave them short of the likes of Bournemouth, but more competitive and primed to compete with injuries in the second-half of the season.
Corberan will never moan publicly about needing more out of the window. He will continue to look for solutions within his squad to keep results more up than down. That’s his style. He is upbeat.
Though, a little help in January wouldn’t go amiss to keep the positivity rolling on, and old friends might offer up new solutions.