FORMER Celtic loan star Patrick Roberts is poised to make his competitive debut for Norwich City in the Premier League opener against Virgil Van Dijk and his Liverpool team-mates at Anfield this evening.
The Manchester City winger, who is on a season-long loan at Carrow Road, is looking forward to pitting his wits against Scotland international skipper and left-back Andy Robertson.
But there is another date on the calendar which is interesting the 22-year-old forward – Sunday, December 1 when Unai Emery’s Arsenal outfit are the visitors.
Roberts spent two-and-a-half years at Parkhead after arriving on a temporary transfer in January 2016 and he quickly formed a friendship with an emerging young full-back.
Kieran Tierney and the Englishman became firm friends during the spell, but the old pals are now on a collision course following the 22-year-old defender’s £25million switch to the London club just before last night’s transfer deadline – a fee that has catapulted the left-back to the status of Scotland’s most expensive footballer.
GETTING SHIRTY…Patrick Roberts with Kieran Tierney’s top at the end of the 2-1 win over Aberdeen in the 2017 Scottish Cup Final.
Their friendship was emphasised at the award ceremony following Celtic’s 2-1 Scottish Cup Final in May 2017. The Scot had been taken to hospital after taking a blow to the face and his chum took over his shirt when there was no sign of the full-back returning to Hampden. Remarkably, he did just that and the mates got their pictures taken together after a dramatic encounter that brought the club their first of three back-to-back trebles.
Roberts returned to the Etihad in the summer after an unhappy and injury-hit spell with Girona which ended with the club being relegated from La Liga before packing his bags again and heading for East Anglia.
The former England Under-20 star, who cost City £12million when he signed from Fulham in July 2015, is hoping his experience of chasing medals at Celtic alongside Tierney and Co will help him in his spell at Norwich – starting tonight on Merseyside against Jurgen Klopp’s Champions League winners.
Roberts, speaking to the Eastern Daily Press, said: “It’s a completely different task, but still the same mentality, to keep working hard and do the same things.
“Up there, it’s a bit different. Obviously, there are teams who will sit back and you have more attacking, so you can get frustrated when you can’t score.
“But here you have to be patient and not rush it, not be naïve or daft, wait for your time on the counter-attacks, carry on playing the way Norwich did all last season, carry that through.”
CITY SLICKER…Patrick Roberts scores against parent club Manchester City in Celtic’s 1-1 draw at the Etihad.
RUNAWAY SUCCESS…Roberts races off after bewildering the City defenders.
Coincidentally, Roberts will take his bow for the Canaries against the club who can include among their admirers members of his family – his parents are from Liverpool and his brother is a huge Reds supporter.
He added: “I’ll have cousins at the game who are season-ticket holders.
“I’ve been to watch games at Anfield, obviously, but I’ve never played there, so that’ll be an experience I’m looking forward to.”
Roberts reckoned his best season so far was at the Hoops in 2016/17 where he played and scored against his parent club in a 1-1 draw in a Champions League group stage encounter in Manchester.
He added: “I had a good game and it was nice to score. I was doing an interview and Pep Guardiola came over and said: ‘Good work, you played really well, keep it going for the rest of the season’.”
There are a few goals ahead for Roberts in the forthcoming campaign – none more welcoming than his joust with Parkhead pal Tierney at the start of December.