Tyler Roberts returned for Leeds United yesterday afternoon, with the forward playing valuable second-half minutes against Crystal Palace for the under-23s.
Leeds have been without Roberts since April due to the forward’s knee injury, but he’s on the comeback trail now and will hope to be available to Marcelo Bielsa before long.
In this Six Point Opinion piece, we discuss Roberts’ return…
Firstly, tell us a little bit about Roberts’ absence…
“Roberts’ last outing for Leeds came during the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa back in April. He missed the final game of the regular season, before sitting out both legs of the play-off semi-final defeat to Derby County.
“The 20-year-old had fluid drained from his knee in May, which resulted in him missing pre-season and the start of the current campaign.
“Now, as mentioned, he’s back in under-23 action.”
How did he get on for the under-23s?
“Carlos Corberan’s side drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, with Roberts featuring during the second-half.
“The forward had some nice touches and looked lively.
“In terms of his recovery, the result means nothing, but getting minutes in the legs is absolutely vital.”
So, how close will a first-team outing be?
“It’s tough to say and until Marcelo Bielsa addresses the media later this week, we won’t know.
“However, if last year is anything to go by, Bielsa will want to see Roberts in action a little bit more regularly for the under-23s.
“Bielsa will want him up to speed and with at least another couple of 45-minute cameos under his belt.
“It isn’t like Leeds are short of attacking options at the minute, so there’s no need to rush things.”
When Roberts does return, what does he bring?
“The 20-year-old brings another versatile attacking option with plenty of pace.
“Last year was the forward’s breakthrough after arriving at Leeds and he will be keen to build on some steady outings.
“He can play as a No. 9 or 10, whilst his versatility means he’s comfortable playing on either flank.
“You can see why Bielsa rates him given the options he offers.”
So, where does he fit into this current Leeds squad?
“Given his versatility, there is more than likely going to be a place somewhere in the matchday 18 for Roberts when he’s fully fit.
“However, in my eyes, Bielsa will look to use him as a No.10 this season. That’s where he impressed most last year and it is where this current squad are perhaps lacking.
“Patrick Bamford and Eddie Nketiah are Bielsa’s strikers, whilst Helder Costa, Jack Harrison and Pablo Hernandez have the wide positions locked down.
“Of course, Hernandez can play in the No.10 role, but Leeds lack a Samu Saiz figure to pull the strings.
“Roberts provided a fix after Saiz’s departure last season, with his pace and ability to pick a pass causing plenty of problems.
“Adam Forshaw and Mateusz Klich are playing well in the advanced midfield roles right now, but Roberts offers something a little bit different to that pair and Bielsa will acknowledge that.”
Finally, just touch on how Roberts will be feeling about his return…
“There will be a sense of relief for the forward.
“Roberts’ career at Leeds didn’t get going until the start of last season due to injuries he suffered after signing from West Brom, and the youngster isn’t going to be happy with more periods on the sidelines.
“It’s vital he’s playing football at his age, and given his impact last season, it is time for him to progress again and show the Championship what he’s all about.”