'It's a big goal for me' - Tyler Roberts outlines Leeds United ambition ahead of new season
Tyler Roberts, by his own admission, was left demanding more from himself in the Premier League last season.
The Whites forward had a near-even split of 14 starts and 13 substitute appearances under Marcelo Bielsa’s watch last term amid his debut campaign in the top flight.
One goal and two assists, though, didn’t quite reflect what he thought he was capable of in England’s elite division.
VAR intervened on a number of occasions to deny the bulking out of the statistics column but Roberts’ relief was clear to see when he finally found the back of the net in United’s last away game of the year at Southampton in May.
A goal that sealed three points on the south coast was met with a roar and the mobbing by team-mates at St Mary’s.
Leeds moved quickly to hand him an extension to his contract in LS11 last month, which will now run until 2024.
At just 22 years of age, he has time on his side and a summer away with Wales as a squad member at the Euros will have helped wipe the slate clean as he bids to return to West Yorkshire with a point to prove.
“I took a lot of confidence from last year,” Roberts said of his first full campaign in the top flight.
“To get a full season in the Premier League and battle it out at the level I want to play at, it was a great starting point.
“I talked about last year not being happy with my goals and assists.
“That’s a big goal for me this season, I feel like I’ve found the ways to improve that part of my game and push on in that way. I am looking forward to it beginning again, definitely.
“I was thinking when I came back in, it’s not long until we’re straight back into the matches.
“When you’re a footballer you enjoy playing games so you want to get straight back into it, so it’s working out well.”
Roberts arrived from West Bromwich Albion in 2018 as a highly-rated prospect but struggled initially with injuries in his first few seasons at Elland Road.
The Welsh international returned to fitness to help in United’s promotion chase last year and was again relied upon heavily as a creative force in the Premier League.
Club record signing Rodrigo himself suffered a stop-start campaign and Roberts was left to help fill the void in the Spaniard’s absence.
Though he did to good effect, it is now down to both players to properly step into the gap departing hero Pablo Hernandez has left for good.
Leeds need to ensure they have a spark behind front man Patrick Bamford and Roberts wants to be exactly that for the Whites.
“I’m good, I am refreshed, I had a little break after being away,” Roberts continued.
“It was good to get that experience of the Euros and to be in the environment, but I am back now and ready to go again.
“I think the magnitude of the tournament, you know how big the Euros are and the World Cup, but until you go and you’re part of it, it’s a whole different level.
“I realised when I was there that the whole talk around Wales, England, everything was the Euros and I was actually there.
“It was a crazy experience and one I was blessed to be a part of.”
Bielsa’s men will begin their competitive pre-season action tonight at non-league outfit Guiseley as they step up their preparations for the upcoming campaign.
There has been a lot of running behind closed doors at Thorp Arch but now games will take over along with the chance to put a name on the team sheet for the opening Premier League match at Old Trafford next month.
“It was refreshing to get a few weeks off and settle down, be with my family for a bit,” Roberts added.
“Now I am back and straight back into it.
“You know what Leeds is like, straight on the running. It’s been good and I am feeling well.
“When I was speaking to the lads, I think we’ve done a little bit more than the other seasons but everybody is at a much fitter level straight away.
“We had our off season programmes which is even better than it has been.
“The testing we’ve been doing has been better, so you can’t fault the sport science and physio; it’s been measured out perfectly.”