New King on the block? Fulham starlet, 17, to inject dynamism into lacklustre team

Following the emergence of Luke Shaw, another Kingston native is set to take English football by storm – meet Fulham’s Patrick Roberts.

Their inaugural campaign in the Sky Bet Championship hasn’t given supporters much cause for cheer, but in 17-year-old Kingston upon Thames native Patrick Roberts, Fulham fans could well be witnessing the start of a very special career, if the winger’s early promise is anything to go by.

Like Manchester United’s Luke Shaw, Roberts was born in Kingston. His nascent career started at AFC Wimbledon, however it didn’t take long for bigger clubs to take notice.

In 2010, aged just 13, Roberts made the short journey across London to join Fulham’s prestigious academy.

While playing for Fulham’s Under-18 side, Roberts was instrumental in a hat-trick of Barclays Under-18 Premier League titles, establishing Fulham as one of the country’s leading academies.

The Kingstonian came to national attention last season when he starred in Fulham’s thrilling run to the FA Youth Cup final with both the semis and the final broadcast live on ITV4.

Fulham lost the two-legged final 7-6, but alongside Chelsea’s Charlie Colkett, Roberts was head and shoulders above his peers in terms of sheer talent.

Despite Fulham’s relegation amid a background of discontent, last season was a successful one for Roberts on a personal level after he made his senior debut under manager Felix Magath, in the 5-0 loss against Manchester City.

While he only made one further substitute appearance Fulham’s subsequent relegation, and the change of guard that accompanies a drop of divisions, has opened the door for Roberts to feature on a more regular occasion this season.

He provided the assist for Tim Hoogland’s goal in Fulham’s 2-1 loss to Ipswich on the first day of the season, going on to start against both Wolves and Derby.

Whilse the physicality of the Sky Bet Championship has, at times, been too much for the lithe 17-year-old, his confidence and guile on the ball belies his age.

Playing either behind the striker or drifting in from the right on his left foot Roberts has looked by far Fulham’s most creative threat.

Liverpool and Arsenal are said to be playing close interest to Roberts’ development, with Magath realistic on Fulham’s chances of holding onto the youngster, telling the Evening Standard: “[if] there is interest from Champions League clubs then you will never be able to hold onto them, especially if the player doesn’t want to stay”.

So what next for Roberts? In the immediate future, nailing down a regular spot in Fulham’s side should be a priority, but with Roberts’ talent, his aims will be focused higher than the Sky Bet Championship.

After Roberts guided England Under-17’s to the Euro’s in the summer, Roy Hodgson will undoubtedly have one eye on his development.

He’ll be keen to ensure one of the brightest prospects to come out of England is groomed for progression at senior level.

How long he stays at Fulham will be dependent on the Cottagers’ ability to escape the Championship.

But for now, at least, Kingston has another footballer to be proud of.

Picture courtesy of treevis, image courtesy of Fox Sports via YouTube, with thanks

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