Leeds United and Wales attacker Tyler Roberts grateful to have trust and backing of Marcelo Bielsa and Ryan Giggs

Tyler Roberts counts himself fortunate to enjoy the trust and backing of both Ryan Giggs and Marcelo Bielsa, for Wales and Leeds United.

Saturday, 17th October 2020, 4:45 pm
BACKING - Tyler Roberts is enjoying the trust of Marcelo Bielsa and Ryan Giggs at Leeds United and Wales. Pic: Getty

The 21-year-old shone in a two-goal performance at Hull City in February and hasn't managed a headline-grabbing display quite like it since. There have been glimpses of his ability to unlock defences.

But Bielsa has stuck with the youngster, believes in his ability and expects to see it in the Premier League as the season unfolds.

"In the last nine games of the Championship Tyler made an important impact for us," said the Argentine.

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"As the season goes on he will be able to show the undoubted qualities he has."

So far this season he's played a full game in the EFL Cup, started two of Leeds' four Premier League games and come on as a substitute in the other two. He has already racked up more than a quarter of the match minutes he had in an injury-disrupted 2019/20 campaign.

Bielsa's faith in the striker is mirrored in the Wales set-up. Giggs handed Roberts two 90-minute outings in the international break, in games against Bulgaria and England. The match at Wembley pitted Roberts against Elland Road team-mate and good friend Kalvin Phillips.

"I'm definitely enjoying my football at the moment, I'm obviously just really grateful that both managers at club and country are putting trust in me and giving me the opportunity and the minutes to express myself, learn and play football," Roberts told the BBC.

"I'm just trying to take every single opportunity that I can."

At Leeds, those opportunities could come up front, if Patrick Bamford is unavailable, or as a number 10. Bielsa turned to Roberts and record signing Rodrigo to fill the role with Pablo Hernandez out injured.

"All my life I've been a striker and a number nine but I've adapted to playing different situations," he said.

"I don't mind playing in the number 10 position, attacking midfield and out wide. Over my career I'd see myself as a number nine, just a versatile one."

That versatility has been aided by the coaching Roberts has received at Leeds from Bielsa and his staff.

He credits the Argentine for helping him to not only see the game differently but to grow into a player capable of doing what it takes on and off the pitch, to play it.

And that, in turn, has had a knock on effect for Roberts on the international stage and helped Giggs to put his faith in the Leeds man.

"He's just made me understand the game at a completely different level," he said.

"I've matured extremely since he's been at the club. Just knowing more about the game and what needs to be done and how it needs to be played. I think people at Wales will realise that and it's just the person he's moulded me into now."

Giggs likes the variety in the former West Brom forward's game.

"Tyler can play a variety of different positions," he said.

"For Leeds, he's played as a 10, he's played out wide, he's played up front. He gives you that flexibility and he's comfortable in all of them roles in forward areas.

"It's up to us to make sure that we get the best out of him, make sure we supply him and, like I said, we need to be better on the ball, show more composure.

"Tyler is one of them players who can produce a goal or assist with a goal."

Hernandez is likely to return to Bielsa's squad for Monday's game against Wolves, meaning Roberts may not enjoy quite as many minutes as he has in the last few weeks, but whilever he enjoys the favour of two managers, opportunities will continue to come his way.

"In a league as long and demanding as the Premier League everyone will get the chance to show their qualities and contribute," said Bielsa on Friday.

"This is also for the young players who arrived in the academy, Pascal, Davis, Poveda who have been through the 23s and also in the case of Tyler Roberts who is a young player."