Young Leeds forward Tyler Roberts has recently returned to the first-team fold, coming off the substitutes bench in recent games as he comes back from injury.
While Bielsa’s squad is perhaps a little light in striking options and numbers, the question remains both where and how to utilise Roberts’ capabilities and get the best out of the 20-year-old.
Roberts is clearly a very talented player, still developing at the age of 20 – though he currently looks a bit of a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ – as he hasn’t quite honed the skills to be used in a specific role with regularity.
The English-born Wales international – who has six caps for his country – can play, and indeed has been used, in a number of attacking roles by Bielsa over the last year, though many of his appearances have come from the substitutes bench.
Roberts can operate as an out-and-out striker, either on his own or with a partner. He has the pace and footwork to trouble defenders and can handle the physical side of the role. However, at the moment the youngster still seems to lack the composure and ‘cool head’ required of a top Championship striker starting games regularly.
The youngster has also been deployed in wide areas and is more than willing to support his full-back’s in defensive duties while, again, offering the pace and trickery to trouble his opponents. However, Roberts again seems to lack the composure and consistency with his ‘final ball’ delivery and Bielsa is likely to continue looking elsewhere for his wide supply lines.
Showing good versatility, Roberts can also play just behind the striker(s), ‘in the hole’ so to speak and offer both offensive and defensive (closing down and pressing) options there for his manager. The Welshman doesn’t possess the same craftsmanship and acute technical skills as the likes of teammates Pablo Hernandez and Mateusz Klich though, so he’s unlikely to be selected in this role regularly by Bielsa, should the Argentine line up this way.
Tyler Roberts is a great prospect, still only 20 and with a lot to offer this Leeds United squad. It appears, however, he’s best used as an impact substitute at present – one that can stretch tired defenders and use his pace to change a game.
Once fully developed, the youngster may find a place in United’s starting eleven. For now, though, barring injuries, Bielsa is likely to continue to use Roberts from the bench.