'Sharp and fit' Tyler Roberts eyes next goals with Leeds United and gives backing to Patrick Bamford

GREAT TO BE BACK: Leeds United forward Tyler Roberts shows his relief and delight after scoring his second goal in Saturday's 4-0 win at Hull City. Picture by Tony Johnson.GREAT TO BE BACK: Leeds United forward Tyler Roberts shows his relief and delight after scoring his second goal in Saturday's 4-0 win at Hull City. Picture by Tony Johnson.
GREAT TO BE BACK: Leeds United forward Tyler Roberts shows his relief and delight after scoring his second goal in Saturday's 4-0 win at Hull City. Picture by Tony Johnson. | jpimedia
TYLER ROBERTS will never forget a particular Tuesday evening at Elland Road in September 2018.

A Leeds United Championship full home debut and an outing to savour as the forward netted a late double against Preston North End.

Twice celebrating in front of an ecstatic Kop as United recorded a 3-0 victory, the appearance will always be regarded as “special”.

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Yet in a rather different way, so too will Saturday’s double at Hull City be one for the memory bank with Roberts delighted to be back with a bang and prove his worth after continued frustrations with injuries.

Roberts signed for Leeds from West Brom carrying a minor knock in January 2018 but as the forward counted down the days to his Whites debut a more serious injury presented itself later that month.

As the Wales international eyed his first outing under former Whites boss Paul Heckingbottom, Roberts cracked a bone in his shin in training and his 2018-19 season was consequently done.

The Gloucester-born footballer then looked in the mood to quickly make up for lost time when netting a double against the Lilywhites eight months on – his first goals for his new club.

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But further knocks and niggles followed as he made 20 league starts and eight outings from the bench during his first season at Leeds before the Wales international saw his maiden Whites campaign ended early with a knee injury.

Surgery to drain fluid followed with Roberts prevented from making his first outing in his second season at Leeds until the 1-0 loss at Charlton Athletic back in September.

A series of starts finally followed before a new problem presented itself in November – a hamstring injury.

Roberts’ December and January featured only an appearance as an 81st-minute substitute in the epic 5-4 win at Birmingham City on December 29.

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Even then after returning at the start of February, another problem presented itself as the forward picked up a calf injury in the 2-0 loss at Nottingham Forest.

But then there was Saturday’s second-coming at Hull, a fifth or sixth-coming even, with Roberts brought on for Patrick Bamford in the 67th minute and helping himself to a clinical brace within 18 minutes of being on the pitch.

Roberts is still only a young 21 – not turning 22 until next February – but there have been enough injuries to last a lifetime.

The frustration felt has been obvious yet Roberts hopes he is finally back for good and back in excellent fettle to help take Leeds United to the Premier League in whichever position Bielsa sees fit.

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Assessing his journey with the Whites so far, Roberts told the YEP: “Last season I had a couple of little injuries which was frustrating but this season has probably been more frustrating as I have been feeling ready in my head.

“I have been focused on getting my body right and some little things just haven’t gone my way unfortunately but that’s what’s happened and it’s just nice to get back.

“I felt sharp, I felt fit and I have done in training for the last few weeks so I am just looking to build off this performance especially and just kick on now and get the team over the line.”

Reflecting on where his impressive double at Hull would rank in his copy book, Roberts mused: “Preston was probably one of the most special ones for me because it was my first goal, my first home game and my first start at Elland Road and stuff like that.

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“But this was more about just showing that I have been through a lot and that I can still come on, I can still impact the game and I’ve not lost it as you could say.

“I think I’ve been resilient through my period, I have been injured and it was just nice to come back on and show that I have been working hard and everyone has looked after me well.”

Better still for Roberts, Saturday’s second-half outing at Hull came in what was his natural position growing up.

Roberts has been used mainly as a no 10 or even as a winger since joining from West Brom but his natural instincts as a striker quickly became abundantly clear at the KC.

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“I grew up in my career playing that position and last season I went into the no 10 role which I do really like playing but I still feel like I can play as a no 9,” said Roberts.

“To get on and to be trusted in that no 9 role for a team like Leeds United is obviously a big thing so it’s good for me.”

Fresh from his quick double salvo, now it might even be that Roberts is tasked with starting in the position.

After seeing Roberts slam home a fierce left-footed finish before netting with a brilliant reverse header, Bielsa admitted the forward’s display at Hull had given him food for thought over who should start in the lone striker role.

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“Clearly it is an option,” said United’s head coach in the aftermath of Saturday’s win at Hull.

“Tyler (Roberts) can play in this position. Normally we always have two players to fight for one position.

“He can be an option for Patrick (Bamford) and he also can be an option for (Mateusz) Klich or Pablo (Hernandez) as a playmaker.

“When one striker scores, of course that has a high value and after that, the manager considers this.”

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The Wales international netted the same amount of goals in 23 minutes at the KC as Bamford has returned in his last 13 games.

Roberts, though, says there is more to it than that with the forward backing Bamford to soon end his own frustrating run of scoring in just one of his last 13 fixtures and going seven games without netting at all.

“I don’t think it’s much to do with the goals,” said Roberts.

“Obviously we need to score goals but Patrick gives a lot to the team and strikers have these runs in their career.

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“I have been through them myself, the end of last season, it’s not nice.

“We are all confident that he can hit the target, he can score goals, we’ve seen it in training enough times.

“It’s just getting that first one I think.”

Assessing what it had been like seeing United continually spurn decent chances in front of goal – whilst either injured or an unused substitute – Roberts said: “It’s frustrating for everyone.

“It’s not just one person. People will say Pat’s not scored but it’s not just him missing chances or anyone in particular.

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“We do have a lot of possession and we do create chances and I think we have shown now we can put them away.

“We have hit the bar and we have hit the post a couple of times.

“We have shown that we are clinical and hopefully we can push on from this now.”