Express & Star

Tyler Roberts improvement will boost Walsall

Boss Jon Whitney hopes the development Tyler Roberts showed during his time with Walsall will entice more players to the club.

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Tyler Roberts

The 18-year-old enjoyed a hugely successful loan spell at the Banks’s Stadium after joining on a temporary basis from Albion back in August.

Whitney has gone on record to state he would love to extend Roberts’ stay with Walsall until the end of the season.

But that seems unlikely with a number of clubs chasing his signature and Albion contemplating using him in their first team.

Roberts was asked to play in an unfamiliar role on the left of midfield in his final Saddlers outing at Charlton on Saturday.

And Whitney felt his impressive display showed how he has developed in his time at the club.

“If you look at Tyler at Charlton, I felt he looked stronger,” the boss said.

“He looked powerful. Last year or the year before that, I don’t think Tyler would have been able to play in that position.

“I felt some of what he did in our defensive third in the first half is a credit to Tyler. That shows how far he has come on.

“It shows how he has progressed. He understands that you have to put it in for the team and if you do that you will get chances.

“I think he will push on now and become a really important player in the second half of the season – that is why I would love to keep him if I can.

“There are lots of others who want him as well. But Tyler knows how much I love him and how much the players love him as well.”

Roberts’ performance at The Valley was his first start in six weeks following a hamstring injury.

And Whitney said he his coaching staff made sure the forward used his time on the sidelines wisely.

“I say to every player who is injured – you cannot do anything about the injury that has happened,” Whitney continued. “But you can do a lot in that rehab time before you return.

“You need to work on strength. We all know Tyler didn’t love the gym.

“But he understands the importance of doing that power work and strength work and we saw that in his performance at Charlton.”

Despite Whitney being keen to keep Roberts, the striker tweeted a farewell message to Walsall’s fans on Sunday night.

Roberts’ loan officially expires on January 26 but it is understood he has now returned to Albion to train with Alan Pardew’s squad.

His message read: “Thank-you to everybody (fans, players, staff)

@WFCOfficial for making me feel so welcome throughout my loan.

“I am forever grateful for the trust and confidence you put in me to perform and to learn.

“We created some great memories together. Good luck for the rest of the season.”