Sheffield United: 'If it was up to me, Paul Coutts would be playing now' manager admits

Paul Coutts is put through his paces at the training ground
Paul Coutts is put through his paces at the training ground
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Chris Wilder admits that, if it had been up to him and the player himself, Paul Coutts would have featured on the team sheet against Queens Park Rangers.

But the Sheffield United manager, whose side secured its first points of the season at Loftus Road, still acknowledges the midfielder will need time to rediscover his best form when he eventually returns from injury.

Coutts has entered the final phase of his recovery from the broken leg which has kept him out of football for nearly a year and Wilder said: "I would love to stick him in the first team right now, not for what he gives you on the pitch, but off it too, in the changing room.

"I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, though. He isn’t going to start scoring 15 goals a season, clearing one off the line at one end, then smacking a volley in at the other end. Everybody recognises the quality he brings, and how hard he has worked to get back."

Results last season underlined Coutts' importance to the United cause, with Wilder's team slipping from first to 10th in the Championship table in his absence. Coaching staff also factored his progress into the decision-making process when deciding to sell Lee Evans to Wigan Athletic. The Wales international is expected to be replaced by one, possibly two new players, shortly with Brighton and Hove Albion's Oliver Norwood poised to arrive shortly.

"We have talked to the medical staff, Paul has to go through the process, getting minutes," Wilder added.

"One of the big things is the return of Coutts. We brought Lee in, hopefully thinking Coutts was going to be okay, but there was no guarantee on that. We have done a deal, brought someone in who has covered for us for seven months, and Paul’s return is hopefully four to six weeks.

"The player we are bringing in is a different type, who complements the chemistry we have, what we want to achieve and go with."