With Leeds’ current spate of injuries, it was perhaps not all too surprising that Marcelo Bielsa has brought Tyler Roberts back into the first-team fold over the past couple of Premier League games.
Before the clash against Arsenal – in which he came on as a substitute at half-time – Roberts had played just 315 minutes of top-flight football in total all season.
But with Rodrigo out, and no other real options available to him, Bielsa gave the Wales international the chance to impress. But against Wolves especially at the weekend, he really disappointed.
He lost possession 15 times – only one other Leeds player lost it more – and failed to hit the target with any of his three attempts on goal, while he contributed just the one key pass.
And after seeing his lacklustre display against Nuno Espirito Santo’s men, former Leeds ace Noel Whelan tore into Roberts, saying: “I still doubt whether he can do it in the Premier League. He struggled to get into a Championship side last year. I am just not sure whether he is a Premier League player. We need more quality if we have aspirations of competing for European spots in years to come.
“He was given an opportunity against Wolves and I do not think he took it.”
He added: “While he is young I do not think he is of the required level. His fitness levels did not look great the other day either. He did nothing after 20 minutes. That is a substitute’s performance. We need a player who can play 90 minutes. He needs to show more fight and desire. I just do not see that. Is he good enough? In my opinion he isn’t.”
The 5 foot 11 Roberts was linked with a move away from Elland Road back in the January transfer window, and with him approaching the final 12 months of his current contract come the summer, his time in the first-team and at the club as a whole is surely up.
He simply hasn’t shown the Whites that he’s someone who’s capable of playing at this level, and it seems like Bielsa would be better served by seeing what the likes of Sam Greenwood and some of the club’s other promising academy prospects can do with the same amount of game-time Roberts has been afforded.
Roberts hasn’t scored at all in the Premier League this season, while his overall record at Elland Road reads as 68 games played, and just seven goals scored – not the kind of numbers expected of a forward player.
Keeping him in the team even for tonight’s game against Southampton would just be holding Leeds back, when instead Bielsa should be putting him in his rear-view mirror.
The Leeds boss simply has to be ruthless and axe him from the starting XI, and even longer-term too.