Former Sheffield United favourite Paul Coutts handed Luka Modric compliment in Bristol Rovers boss praise after return

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Paul Coutts, the former Sheffield United fan favourite, has been likened to Croatia World Cup star Luka Modric after making his long-awaited return to Bristol Rovers’ first-team.

Coutts played his first minutes since mid-October as Joey Barton’s men beat Port Vale on Saturday afternoon, with the former England international describing the 34-year-old former Blade as “exceptional”.

Coutts was a key figure in United’s rise from League One to the Championship and continued his fine form in the second tier, helping United to the top of the table before suffering a horrific leg break away at Burton Albion.

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By the time he recovered fitness, United had signed Ollie Norwood and Coutts could not recover his place – but left Bramall Lane on good terms and with the well-wishes of everyone who had watched him help the club’s rise through the divisions.

“I thought he was exceptional,” Barton said of Coutts. “He was thrown in pretty much in the deep end and he never skipped a beat. That’s the reason he’s the captain and why he’s so important to our group and I honestly believe in the last spell, when we’ve been on a really good run, we’ve missed Couttsy massively because of his composure and quality on the ball.

“As you saw last night with Luka Modric… again, I’m not comparing players… but you don’t need to be able to run if you’ve got the ball. Paul Coutts has got better feet than I’ve ever had, and I’ve played obviously in the top-flight. He’s got such lovely, soft feet.

Paul Coutts of Bristol Rovers, formerly of Sheffield United (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)Paul Coutts of Bristol Rovers, formerly of Sheffield United (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Paul Coutts of Bristol Rovers, formerly of Sheffield United (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

“His quality on the ball really rubs off on the rest of his teammates because somebody can give him a pass that maybe isn’t the correct kind of pass. But because his first touch and his control is so good, and the way he uses his body, he just settles everyone down in our team.

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“It’s no coincidence that we passed the ball much better than we did at Bolton and a prime reason is Paul Coutts is in the team. We’ve missed him in recent weeks and him coming back … it’ll give us a real squad depth that’ll help us push on. We’re three points outside the play-offs and, for us, every point now is going to be vital.”

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