Derby County manager Wayne Rooney revealed that Patrick Roberts has been excelling in training since his loan switch a few weeks ago, and he was all set to start against former club Middlesbrough until picking up a niggling injury.
Roberts has had a tough season so far, having started the season back on loan at Boro following his half-season spell on Teesside last season.
Expecting to get regular game-time at the Riverside under Neil Warnock, Roberts got anything but, playing just nine times for Middlesbrough and starting just four of those games – and a fresh start was needed before the January transfer window came to a close.
With Derby lacking in depth all over the pitch, Rooney took a chance on the mercurial talent that is Roberts, who has promised so much from his early days since he moved to Manchester City and had a successful loan spell at Celtic, but he’s not kicked on from there.
The 24-year-old came off the bench in the 3-0 defeat to Rotherham over a week ago, and it looks like he was all set to start against the club that didn’t use him as much as he would have wanted – but old issues resurfaced as Roberts picked up a niggling injury that reduced him to sitting on the bench.
Regardless of that though, it sounds as though the winger has impressed Derby’s management team in training and there are signs of a renaissance under Rooney coming.
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“Patrick Roberts was starting but had a little niggle so I took him out,” Rooney revealed post-match, per the Teesside Gazette.
“He’s been very good in training, he brings a lot of added quality to the team, It was only this morning he woke up and felt a bit tight.
“He had this before, tried to play and he ended up coming off after 30 minutes and missing four months.
“I didn’t want to take that risk. I put him on the bench and was reluctant to bring him on. If I didn’t need him I wasn’t going to take that risk.”
This is an encouraging admission as it looks like Roberts is going to get a lot more chances at the Rams than he did at Middlesbrough, which can only do his career good.
He surely won’t have a future at Manchester City so at this point with just over a year left on his contract at the Etihad, he’s playing for a permanent move away.
And Pride Park could very well be his new home for the next few years at least if he impresses until the end of the season, but he will have to put his constant little injuries behind him if he wants his feet to do the talking on the pitch.