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SWINDON TOWN: Roberts eager to play a part at Fratton Park
WINGER Gary Roberts is pushing for his first start in a Swindon shirt as he bids to make up for lost time after a frustrating start to life at the County Ground .
The Scouser arrived in Wiltshire over the summer as a key component of manager Paolo Di Canio’s reshaped Swindon squad, and impressed in pre-season as he quickly settled into the Robins’ side with a series of impressive performances.
But the 28-year-old picked up a calf injury just before the start of the season, and only returned in time to come on as a 52nd-minute substitute in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Carlisle’s Brunton Park.
The stuttering start to his Swindon career frustrated the former Huddersfield man, but he is pleased to be back and is now targeting his first start against Portsmouth this evening.
“The worst part about it all was that I got through the hardest pre-season I have ever done pretty well, and I was fully fit and scored a few goals,” he said.
“I went into the last game wanting to just get through it and do well, and then go into the season full of confidence.
“But I got a knock and pulled out before the first game of the season, and I felt really down about it and it didn’t hit me for a while.
“After a few weeks I just started looking forward to coming back, but it was a real blow to have to go through that so early. We took our time a bit after a bit of a setback, and the fitness coach made it clear we were going to leave it a week longer than expected to make sure it didn’t happen again.
“It was good to finally get out there and put the jersey on and play for the club, so now I need to concentrate on getting a start, playing well and getting a few goals.”
Roberts linked up well with full-back Jay McEveley and delivered some threatening balls after coming on at Carlisle, but is expecting better performances once he has built up his match fitness.
“I think I did okay considering it was my first game after being out for four or five weeks, but it was a bit of an open game when I came on and I couldn’t catch my breath,” he said.
“Once it settled down I think I did okay, but I can do better and I will do in future games.
“The goals we conceded were not great from our point of view, but the boys played well and after a lot of preparation during the week our gameplan came off, and I think we deserved to win the game comfortably.
“We have spoken about some things and we are going in the right direction, and hopefully against Portsmouth we can take another step in the righ direction.”