When he signed for Derby, in the summer of 2010, we didn’t really know what to expect other than Doncaster saying that he’s a good player. In his first season he faced tough competition from Dean Moxey for the left back spot in the starting line-up. At the start of that season Roberts struggled to hold down a regular place in Nigel Clough’s starting line-up. Derby fans overwhelmingly preferred Dean Moxey as the first choice left back. When Roberts did play his performances were poor and didn’t convince the supporters. In January that season Dean Moxey was sold to Crystal Palace much too many fans disgust, this made Gareth Roberts the automatic choice for the left back position. Now playing every game his performances were sloppy and still unconvincing.
Prior to the start of this season Nigel Clough signed Hull left back and Republic of Ireland international Kevin Kilbane on loan for 6 months meaning Gareth Roberts once again had tough competition. Kilbane started the first seven games as first choice, when Roberts did come in to the starting line-up many fans still disliked him and weren’t impressed. His first start this season came against fierce rivals Nottingham Forest where the Rams famously won 2-1. From then his performances seemed to improve yet fans still slated him from the stands. Kevin Kilbane was sent back to Hull early due to an injury meaning Gareth Roberts was the only first team left back and the automatic choice for Derby’s starting line-up. Gareth’s performances picked up as the Rams went on an 8 game unbeaten run over Christmas and New Year. Certainly this half of the season he has been one of our best players and looks a far better player than he was this time last year. He has easily been the most improved player from last season. On Saturday 17th March Roberts scored his first Derby goal against his former club Doncaster in a2-1 win. The two-year contract Gareth signed in 2010 expires this summer and manager Nigel Clough has expressed his desire to get a new deal sorted but currently no deal has been made. It is likely that he will sign a new contract. I hope he does sign one but I also think we need some cover or competition in that position. Derby have been linked with Dundee’s left back Paul Dixon. Last season ,like many, I thought he wasn’t good enough but this he has proved to be a good player at this level.