Sheffield United: Mark Duffy’s interesting take on Oliver Norwood, Paul Coutts and Millwall’s Ryan Leonard
Mark Duffy says the fact Oliver Norwood is keeping Paul Coutts out of Sheffield United's starting eleven proves how well his fellow midfielder has performed since arriving at Bramall Lane.
Describing Coutts as "one of the best I've ever played with or against", Duffy cited increased competition as one of the reasons why Chris Wilder's squad enters tomorrow's home game against Millwall only a point outside the automatic promotion places.
"Olly's done brilliant," Duffy admitted. "The biggest compliment I can pay him is that he's starting all these matches and yet he's got Couttsy there as well. And he (Coutts) is one of the best I've ever come across during my time in the game. One of the best I've ever played with or against."
Norwood joined United on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion at the beginning of the season before completing a permanent transfer, thought to be worth £2m, in January. Only three of 27-year-old's 41 appearances under Wilder have come from the bench.
Duffy, aged 33, said: "You've got lads like Lunny (John Lundstram) and Couttsy, they'd probably walk into most other teams in the division. But here, there's so much strength in that area it's different. But it's one of the things that's made us what we are I think."
Duffy cited Ryan Leonard, who signed for Millwall in August following a brief spell with United, as another example of their improved depth.
"He is a good player and it was one of them where probably it is our strongest position in the whole squad as we have so many central midfielders," Duffy continued. "It was tough for him to get a run of games because of the quality we have up there. It is not just him, we have others such as Lee Evans, Lunny and Couttsy. At anywhere else in the Championship, they would probably be regulars.
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"He is a great lead, Lenny, and I will go over and wish him all the best. After Saturday."
Duffy was a member of the United team which triumphed 3-2 at The Den in September, thanks to David McGoldrick's late brace.
"They are a good team and we have played against them a lot as they came up with us," Duffy, who won the League One title with United in 2017, said. "We have had some tough battles and they are a physical team.
"They play a different style to us. We believe if we play our style to the best of our ability, we will come out on top."