Tyler Roberts is the next player of Wales' golden generation

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When Wales won the Victory Shield for the first outright time in 66 years in November last year it was clear to all observers who the catalyst behind the success was. 

Tyler Roberts might have only scored once, in the final game against Northern Ireland, after drawing blanks against England and Scotland, but his power and trickery marked him out against his peers. 

With a style similar to Daniel Sturridge, fantastic touch and link-up play, any scouts watching would have gone back to their respective clubs with gushing reports about the forward's potential. 

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Now, six months on from the historic victory, the 16-year-old has been thrust into the spotlight once again after being named in West Bromwich Albion's squad to face Arsenal last Saturday and Wales' training squad for their upcoming 2016 European Championship games against Belgium.

Golden generation    

The arrival of another young talent is giving Welsh supporters further reason to be cheerful about the future of the national team, who are currently sitting second in Group B, equal on points with leaders Belgium.

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Manager Chris Coleman has called-up the likes of George Williams, Tom Lawrence, Emyr Huws, Jonathan Williams, Declan John and Harry Wilson in recent squads, all aged 21 or younger.

This is in addition to a core of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, Neil Taylor and Ben Davies who are regulars in the national side and still have their best footballing years ahead of them. 

Breaking into the national squad on a regular basis is a tantalising prospect for Roberts, given Wales' lack of a top class attacker aside from Bale. 

Bale is streets ahead of the rest of the attackers on sixteen goals, with his closest competitor Sam Vokes ten goals behind him.  

Profitable academy 

Roberts is clearly highly thought of at West Brom, as his call up under Tony Pulis attests to, however the next hurdle is becoming a permanent feature in the squad.

The striker is the latest player off the West Brom academy production line, although the Baggies will be wary of the fact they have struggled to keep hold of their prized assets in the past.

Izzy Brown left for Chelsea shortly after making his debut as a 16-year-old while Jerome Sinclair and Yan Dhanda were lured to Liverpool without making a senior appearance.

Both Brown and Sinclair have been included in Chelsea and Liverpool squads in the final games of the season, somewhat justifying their decisions to leave, but there is still and argument that their development would have been quicker had they stayed at the Hawthorns.  

Pulis will point to Saido Berahino, who is now a part of the England squad and played in every Premiership game this season, scoring 14 goals, as an example of what can Roberts can achieve with the club. 

Tug of War 

Roberts' call up to the Wales squad won't have gone unnoticed by Roy Hodgson and his England staff either who will be aware that the Gloucester-born striker is still eligible for the Three Lions. 

Although he was selected to play for England schoolboys Roberts made it clear where his loyalties lie by choosing to represent Wales instead, but that won't dampen Hodgson's desire to select the player should he remain eligible. 

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish is currently facing a similar decision between Republic of Ireland, who he's represented at Under 17, 18 and 21 level, or England, his birthplace. 

There's nothing to say Roberts hasn't already decided to play for Wales, who he qualifies for through grandparents, but it could be an interesting decision further down the line.  

For now Roberts can look forward to next season, as can West Brom fans who will be hoping to see a lot more of the youngster in the next campaign.

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Chris Coleman
West Bromwich Albion

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