Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has described Paul Coutts as “too important” to rest as his team chases an automatic promotion place.
Coutts has emerged as an instrumental figure in a team which travels to Rochdale this evening chasing its fourth victory in five outings following last weekend’s draw with Coventry City at Bramall Lane.
The former Derby County and Preston North End midfielder is set to feature at Spotland despite, as Clough revealed during yesterday’s media briefing, playing through a “series” of unspecified “knocks.”
“Paul could probably do with a rest for a game or whatever but, at this moment in time, he’s just too important for us to consider doing that,” Clough said. “There are a few of the lads in his position and so that’s why it’s good that we’ve got a few coming back (from injury) pretty soon.
“Paul won’t want to miss any football, I’m sure of that, but it might be the case that we let him sit one out at some point. But it’s impossible to say at the moment whether that’s going to be an option or not.”
Coutts enters the fixture against Keith Hill’s side having made six consecutive league starts for United after leaving County a month ago. He last started six back-to-back matches during the closing stages of the 2012/13 Championship campaign.
The 26-year-old could be joined in United’s travelling party by Ryan Flynn after Clough confirmed the winger had completed his first full training session after an Achilles problem. Jason Holt, on loan from heart of Midlothian, is also hoping to feature after being forced to miss the City contest.
Jose Baxter serves the first of a three game suspension following his red card during the early stages of that 2-2 draw.
United, placed fifth, required a late goal from Jamal Campbell-Ryce to overcome Rochdale earlier this season. Keith Hill’s side, who were promoted last term, slipped to 17th following that result but are preparing for the re-arranged fixture ranked 13th.
“I thought that was actually one of the hardest games we’ve had at home this season,” Clough said. “And we’re preparing for exactly the same thing again.
“Rochdale were battling for the play-offs and have dropped off a bit but it’s always difficult to maintain that run with a smaller squad.”