Reliable Gareth Roberts stands out in list of left-backs
DERBY County’s team showed three changes for the game against Bristol City at Ashton Gate.
Mark O’Brien came in for his first start in more than a year and midfielder Craig Bryson returned after a knee injury.
The other change saw fit-again Gareth Roberts come back in for James O’Connor at left-back.
Roberts, Mr Reliable, performed like he had never been out and his presence was much-needed because City’s right winger Albert Adomah is capable of causing defences problems.
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Not only was Roberts solid in his 90th appearance in a Rams shirt, he also had a big hand in Derby’s second goal, when his delicious centre invited somebody to head it in. Bryson obliged by glancing the ball past Tom Heaton.
Roberts is 34 and he has almost 600 senior games under his belt.
He is a great professional who goes about his job quietly and effectively. No frills, no fuss.
He tends not to do much press before or after games but he is still a big character in the squad and a role model for young full-backs Kieron Freeman, Michael Hoganson and Rhys Sharpe.
Driving back up the M5 from Bristol, I started to recall Derby’s left-backs of the past 10 years.
Jay McEveley, Dean Moxey, Luciano Zavagno and Paul Boertien came to mind.
McEveley played 101 games, although some of his most dominant displays came when he filled in at centre-back. Boertien, a totally committed defender, was so unlucky with injuries.
Other left-backs include Jamie Vincent, Mo Camara, Richard Jackson – a right-back who could play on the left – and Alan Wright, who had a brief seven-match loan spell at Derby in 2006.
For me, Roberts has been Derby’s most consistent left-back since the club dropped out of the Premiership in 2002.