Great expectations all round as Tyler Roberts secures Leeds United future

“Now it’s time for more exciting things,” said Tyler Roberts after the last landmark in a season which cemented him at Leeds United.

STICKING AROUND: Leeds United's Tyler Roberts (centre) celebrates scoring at Southampton. Picture: Frank Augstein/PA

Ahead of Wales starting their European Championship with a match against Switzerland in Baku on Saturday, Roberts has signed a new three-year contract at Elland Road – proof a season which required patience at the start has met with the approval of ultra-demanding Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Now, though, the 22-year-old’s focus is building on it, improving as a player and helping Leeds push for European qualification.

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Most of the 2019-20 squad had not played in the Premier League 12 months ago and Roberts had only dipped his toe in at West Bromwich Albion, so they could have been forgiven for trepidation. Bielsa, however, is loyal to players he believes in even if, in Roberts’s case, injuries limited his impact in the Championship. It took the attacking midfielder or centre-forward a while to adapt, only starting two Premier League games before mid-February before 12 in a row after.

INTERNATIONAL CALLING: Tyler Roberts, pictured in action for Wales earlier this year. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

Now he wants more.

“It was a tough start to the season for me, I didn’t find my feet too early but it’s great that the manager trusted me and gave me that run of games to find my fitness,” he said.

“From a boy to a man, it’s been that kind of transition.

“It’s been a good few years and we’ve done some amazing things but now it’s time for more exciting things.

KEEN INTEREST: Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa. Picture: Ian Walton/PA

“It’s just having the confidence and composure to pick that last pass, get that shot off, get that yard of space to get the shot off. I haven’t reached my full potential.

“We’ll go into (next) season expecting and excited. We should be looking at European places and getting into those sorts of areas. I’m confident the team and the club will be able to do it.”

Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales face Turkey in Baku on Wednesday and Italy in Rome four days later. Roberts has a fight for his place but knows his performances will count for something with former Argentina and Chile coach Bielsa.

“He’s very proud, he knows it’s a big deal for you to get called up to your national team, he’s very big on that,” said Roberts.

“He still analyses the clips from your national team so there’s no hiding when you’re away.”