Joe Gelhardt promotion could lead to surprise exit as attacker reaches Leeds United crossroads

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It has become an overused cliche in football that a player’s season will be ‘make or break’.

Yet, Tyler Roberts’ Leeds United career seems to be at a crossroads, despite signing a new three-year contract a mere three months ago.

The Welshman hasn’t been a regular selection under Marcelo Bielsa throughout his tenure at Elland Road but 10-game stints of good form have done enough to convince the club to continue persevering.

Roberts‘ talent is evident, he has great technical ability but hasn’t been particularly convincing as an advanced eight, from a converted striker, in the same way as Rodrigo Moreno.

By his own admission, the 22-year-old still sees himself as a number nine despite not playing in that role consistently for a number of years.

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“It’s been a great learning experience in each position, trying to be versatile and I think that is the sort of player I am, I can be versatile,” he told talkSPORT in March, three months before committing his future to the club.

“Ideally I like to play through the centre, I see myself in the future being a number nine. Of course at the moment I’m playing number ten and I do think I can impact in that position.”

You could regard Roberts as unlucky, he has not been given a real opportunity down the middle, given the form of Patrick Bamford.

However, when Saturday presented an opportunity to impress, Bielsa instead reinstated Rodrigo as his central figure, with Roberts missing out on a place in midfield too.

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With the emergence of Joe Gelhardt, who continues to impress for the Under-23s, it asks the question, is this ever going to work out at Elland Road?

Gelhardt could seemingly provide the same cover as Roberts, either as an advanced eight or number 10 or equally through the middle.

Roberts is now facing a defining season. He’ll be 23 in January and he needs regular football, in his favoured position. If he is to realise his international ambitions too, more match minutes are vital.

With Gelhardt ready and waiting in the wings, Leeds and Roberts may have a difficult decision to make next summer.

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