Nigel Adkins has backed Paul Coutts to emerge as a major figure for Sheffield United after lavishing praise on the midfielder following his return from injury.
Adkins, who hopes to strengthen the options at United’s disposal by entering the emergency loan market this week, issued his prediction after a 3-1 victory over Doncaster Rovers lifted the hosts to sixth ahead of tomorrow’s visit to League One leaders Burton Albion.
Coutts, appearing for the first time since Adkins’ appointment, impressed as goals from Chris Basham, Conor Sammon and Billy Sharp dealt a blow to Rob Jones’ hopes of securing the managerial position at Rovers on a permanent basis.
“That proves Paul’s an excellent player, as is Ryan Flynn,” Adkins said. “But we have not had the opportunity to play them because they have been injured. They have come and did very well. There’s a collective spirit with everybody. At the start of the season we just had enough for the eleven and the substitutes. Now the squad is starting to get healthier, which is important. Paul moves the ball ever so well and is a good football player. We are just delighted we could call upon him.”
United, who are monitoring Leicester City’s Dean Hammond and Fulham’s Dan Burn, were leading 2-1 when Rovers’ Gary MacKenzie was dismissed for a challenge on Craig Alcock. The former Peterborough defender is now a doubt for the meeting with Albion.
“Craig couldn’t move at half-time, I would have liked to have kept him on,” Adkins, the United manager, said. “He’s battered and bruised from the challenge. He did really well in that first half - him and Coutts combined well - and we scored two goals from crosses. It’s disappointing for him.”
Sammon also vindicated his selection after being named on the bench for the draw at Bradford City earlier this month.
“Conor could have scored two or three goals,” Adkins added. “It’s interesting, we didn’t start him last week, so you are looking for competition for places. You want energy, vigour and verve, from everybody. He could have come away with the hat-trick ball out there.”