Who is new Hearts recruit Jordan Roberts - scouting report on the winger the Tynecastle side won the race to sign

The 26-year-old was announced on Monday – what can Hearts fans expect
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Hearts managed to land one of their key targets earlier this week with the arrival of Jordan Roberts, the winger signing a two-year deal despite strong interest from teams in England.

Not long after Robbie Neilson returned to the club for a second spell as head coach he noted the priority in the transfer window was to add pace and strength to the wide areas.

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Following the signing of Roberts, he noted his delight at the capture.

Jordan Roberts signed a two-year deal with Hearts after his release from Ipswich Town. Picture: GettyJordan Roberts signed a two-year deal with Hearts after his release from Ipswich Town. Picture: Getty
Jordan Roberts signed a two-year deal with Hearts after his release from Ipswich Town. Picture: Getty

“He has real pace and power in the wide areas,” Neilson said. “I said previously that we needed to bring some pace to the team on the wings. Jordan will definitely do that.”

Roberts is set for his second experience of Scottish football having had a season with Inverness CT in 2015/16, but he has spent the majority of his career in the fourth and fifth tiers of English football.


One thing which should be noted straight away is Roberts’ ability to cover a number of positions.

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Roberts had a season with Inverness but it was hampered by injury. Picture: SNSRoberts had a season with Inverness but it was hampered by injury. Picture: SNS
Roberts had a season with Inverness but it was hampered by injury. Picture: SNS

Neilson has brought him in to “go outside an opponent and stretch the game”. Left-wing is his strongest position where he can utilise his physical qualities. But he can also play as an inverted winger on the other side, providing a different crossing angle.

Both Ipswich Town and his last team Gillingham, where he was on loan alongside Olly Lee, played him through the middle regularly, whether it was behind the front duo or as one of the central strikers. Naturally, he found himself dropping deeper to get involved or stretching the game laterally, getting the ball in wider areas.

Pace and strength

As Neilson pinpointed, Roberts will bring a bit of pace to the side. He is a strong runner and is helped by good acceleration which allows him to make quick bursts and get away from opponents, whether it is down the flanks or through the middle.

When he gets going he has the ability to glide across the turf but it is those short sprints which should aid him when coming up against opponents in tight areas.

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There should be no problem with the player coping with the physical nature of Scottish football. He is well built and is helped by a low centre of gravity, allowing him to protect the ball really well.

When running, it is fair to say he is lighter and much easier to knock over. Allied with his acceleration, he will be adept at winning fouls.


Watching the player for Gillingham and Ipswich Town it was frustrating to see him through the middle and not be able to utilise his pace in one-on-one situations.

When he does face up a winger or receive the ball out wide with space, he won’t go on a mazy dribble or look to beat a full-back with tricks. It is a case of using slight body movements to throw an opponent off balance or simply knocking it past him and getting on the end of it to zip in a cross.

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He will, however, only do it if he sees that there is space available or targets in the box to hit. Not keen on running down blind alleys, he’d prefer to keep possession and bide his time.


With the players in attack at Hearts, he may have to adapt his crossing. Roberts is a fan of standing or clipping the ball up into the box and he is good at doing it with a bit of pace and whip. It could work for Uche Ikpeazu but with smaller targets such as Steven Naismith and Liam Boyce, it may be more about being precise and zipping low crosses or getting his head up a bit more than he perhaps normally does and looking for a cut-back.

If played on the right, his crossing could prove problematic for opposing defences with the curl he gets on them. One touch could send the ball goalwards.

Roberts should provide Hearts with a good set-piece taker, whether it is corners or free-kicks around the box. He notably scored a similar goal to Paul Hartley’s famous free-kick against Hibs in the 2006 Scottish Cup semi-final for Crawley Town.


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Roberts has netted just twice in the league in the last two campaigns. But in an attacking team who will create chances, as Hearts will be expected to do in the Championship, he could be good for half a dozen at the very least.

If played on the left, when the ball is on the opposite side, he will look to move centrally and provide another threat in the box. A few of his goals in going back a few seasons is him breaking across to score into an empty net.


The winger doesn’t make controlling the football look like a difficult task which is always a big plus. The big advantage he possesses is his willingness to use his weaker right foot. His shooting is probably erratic, at best, with it, but it allows him to make quicker passes or better switches of play without forcing it on to his left.

Aerial ability

Perhaps unfashionably for a winger, Roberts is more than useful in the air. Maybe not as a traditional target man of clipping it up to him and him flicking it on. But if given the chance to set himself and attack a ball he can be a real danger.

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Going back to the power Neilson mentioned, the forward has got an excellent spring which could be a useful weapon when attacking the back post or for diagonals against some of the smaller full-backs in the Championship.

Out of possession

Finally, Roberts shows a real energy when the opposition are in possession. There is a determination in closing down and putting pressure on opponents.

He’s not shy in putting himself about and can be prone to committing fouls, but that is more about an eagerness and not slowing down when going into a challenge.

He should feed off the energy created by the fans at Tynecastle to really go hunting to win the ball back and vice versa.


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There is no doubt Roberts will add more pace and strength to the team as Neilson wants, and it may be good for the player to get a consistent run of games in a wide position after his career didn’t quite kick on after getting a big move to Ipswich Town, which has included two loan spells and a number of different roles.

Having simple messages given to him by Neilson will help strip his game back and provide that direct and quick threat which should open up the game for Hearts.