Tyler Roberts admitted to feeling “massive” relief after ending a six-month injury battle with his first appearance for Leeds United at Southend United yesterday.
The 19-year-old striker completed his comeback from a cracked shin bone suffered within days of his move to Elland Road in January with a second-half outing as Leeds’ third pre-season friendly ended in a 1-1 draw. United paid £2.5m to take the highly-rated Roberts from The Hawthorns but were unable to use him once last season after the forward complained of pain in his left leg after his first full training session at Thorp Arch.
Roberts finished yesterday’s match with an ice pack on the same shin but said the treatment was a precaution and insisted he felt no pain during his 28-minute run-out.
He was sent on by head coach Marcelo Bielsa in search of a winning goal after a 35th-minute strike from Leeds right-back Luke Ayling cancelled out a 20th-minute header from Southend’s Harry Lennon.
Roberts told the YEP: “I’m buzzing to be able to get back out on the pitch, to get in front of the fans and just play a game. It’s a massive relief.
“Even though we were so far away from Leeds, the fans were amazing when I came onto the pitch. I got great applause and I’m really thankful for their trust and patience in me. It was nice just to be out there and involved.
“My shin feels fine. I didn’t feel anything throughout the game and (the ice pack) is just a precaution to keep on top of it. I felt good. This is my biggest season yet coming up and I’m very excited for it. I can’t wait to get started.”
Roberts, a Wales Under-21 international, was on the verge of the Welsh senior squad during his time at West Brom and was reluctantly sold by Albion after the West Midlands club failed to agree a new contract with him.
Speaking about his injury, Roberts said: “It was done in training, the first day literally. I felt something, got it scanned and had a little crack.
“It’s obviously not the best way to start at a new club but it’s football, it happened and I got through it. Everyone around me helped me get through it.”