Connor Roberts: Swansea City defender eyes success with club and country

By Gareth VincentBBC Sport Wales
Connor Roberts
Connor Roberts has had loan spells at Yeovil Town, Bristol Rovers and Middlesbrough

The old line about taking each game as it comes does not always apply.

The immediate focus is a busy string of festive Championship matches, yet Connor Roberts cannot help but look a little further down the line.

"What a summer it could be," Swansea City's Wales international right-back says.

"Not to dream, but imagine if Swansea get promoted, I go to the Euros and we do well - get out of the group. It could be unbelievable.

"On the other hand all that might not happen. Even then I will still be positive. I will still hopefully get to play in the Euros and play another season for Swansea.

"I have had a few setbacks this season, where I feel a bit dented and feel a bit down, but hopefully the rest of the season and the summer can make me feel really positive, like I was last season."

Baku and Rome, the cities which will host Wales' Euro 2020 group matches, seem a long way off as rain lashes down at Swansea's training ground.

But the prospect of a major championship will drive Roberts on as Swansea strive for the Premier League.

It has not been an easy season so far despite the euphoria triggered by qualification for Euro 2020.

Roberts is not entirely happy with his form, and says unity has been key for Swansea having seen results dip dramatically after a supreme start to the campaign.

Connor Roberts
Connor Roberts made his Wales debut against Uruguay in the China Cup in March 2018

"You get a lot of people criticising you when things don't go right, but the management and the players are all in it together," he tells BBC Sport Wales.

"If we were to go on another bad run, I don't think the boys would start shouting and screaming or blaming other people. We just get back on the horse.

"I don't think people can say we are miles off it or we are not close to where we want to be.

"Yes we could have played better at times, but there are not many people moaning internally. The league table doesn't lie and we are still doing okay."

Roberts, 24, is one of the numerous academy products who have thrived since Swansea's relegation from the Premier League in 2018.

He has been left out on a handful of occasions by Swans boss Steve Cooper though and admits spells on international duty have lifted his mood.

"The start of the season was okay, not as good as I wanted, then I dipped and didn't play a few games and I was a bit gutted," Roberts says.

"Going away with Wales helps a lot because I love going away with Wales and playing with brilliant players.

"The end goal when I started the campaign was to qualify and we did that. That's something I'll never forget.

"In amongst all the half-poor performances, I went away with my country, played with 10 unbelievable players and we qualified for the Euros for the second time in a row."

Roberts, from Crynant in the Dulais Valley, has quickly racked up 16 caps having made his Wales debut in March last year.

The Euro 2020 opener against Switzerland is six months away, but at this stage Roberts looks a safe bet to be part of Ryan Giggs' starting side.

What is abundantly clear is that should he be involved, Roberts will savour of every moment of the third major championship in Wales' history.

"I find it brilliant to go away and look at the players around me and the manager on the side," he says.

"In previous campaigns and eras, Wales have had good players. But I think this team, if everyone plays as well as they can, it could be twice as good as any other.

"It's hard to say that because the last European Championship was unbelievable. They had a brilliant team.

"But I think man for man, if we picked our best 11 now - if David Brooks was playing, DJ (Daniel James), (Gareth) Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen - and everyone played as well as they could, we would be a match for a lot of good teams."

After Switzerland, Wales will face Turkey and Italy.

"It's never going to be easy - it's the Euros," Roberts adds. "But the group could have been worse. It could have been Germany, France and Portugal.

"There are not really expectations - we are only a small country going against big, big teams with loads of world-class players.

"It's going to be difficult but hopefully it will be a summer to remember and the fans can enjoy their trips."

Ryan Giggs
Connor Roberts has been a regular for Wales under Ryan Giggs

International regular he may be, but Roberts is taking nothing for granted.

"The way I think is that if I don't play well for Swansea and offer the team loads going forward and in defence, I won't get picked for Wales," he says.

"I am just trying to play well for Swansea and that will help me in the summer."

It could be that Roberts is thinking about club and country come the end of the regular season.

Swansea moved back into the play-off places as 2019-20 reached its halfway point, so it is far from inconceivable that their season will be extended.

"Why not?" Roberts says. "We started well. In the last few months we haven't really clicked and people have been asking questions, but we are still in with a chance.

"If we can put a string of results together we could be right in it."

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