Sheffield United: Chris Wilder admits he was an emotional man after watching Paul Coutts make his long-awaited return from injury

Paul Coutts of Sheffield Utd applauds the fans during the Sky Bet Championship match at Ewood Park Pic: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Paul Coutts of Sheffield Utd applauds the fans during the Sky Bet Championship match at Ewood Park Pic: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, described the moment Paul Coutts made his long-awaited return from injury as the highlight of last night’s win over Blackburn Rovers.

Two goals from Billy Sharp lifted United to third in the Championship table, level on points with leaders Leeds, as the visitors became the first team to team to beat Tony Mowbray's side at home since January.

Despite the significance of the result, Wilder admitted the sight of Coutts making his first senior sppearance since fracturing a leg 11 months ago would be his abiding memory of the contest.

"For me, that's what made it special," Wilder said, following the midfielder's introduction as a second-half substitute. "To see that boy back out there on the football pitch, that was magic for me.
"It can be quite a clinical game at times. But I'd never want us to be a cold hearted club and we're not. So, watching our fans give him that reaction, knowing how hard he has worked to get himself ready again, I'm not going to deny was very emotional."

United were leading 1-0 when Coutts was introduced and Wilder continued: "I didn't bring him on out of sentiment. We brought him on because he's ready and we felt he could bring something we needed.

"Credit to the lad because he's put so much in to coming back. Credit to the medical staff and his team mates for helping him along the way and credit to his family as well because I know they've supported him.

"He's given me a headache now, which I'm quite happy with, because we've got a lot of good players who can't get a game at the moment. But that's great because we want everybody pushing."

Wilder also was effusive in his praise of United's overall performance against opponents he labelled "a proud football club."

Sharp scored his first early in the second period, after combining with team mates John Fleck and David McGoldrick, before taking his tally for the season to eight following Enda Stevens' cross.

"To beat Blackburn at home, after they've gone so long without a defeat here, I knew we'd have to play well," Wilder said. "For me, that was a proper man's performance from our lads out there, a proper footballer's performance.
"This might not have been the most glamorous fixture in either our calendar or Blackburn's. But, I tell you what, these are the type of nights when proper footballers turn up."