Manager Chris Wilder admitted the news Paul Coutts suffered a broken leg during last night’s match at Burton Albion had overshadowed Sheffield United’s climb back to the top of the Championship table.
Coutts left the pitch on a stretcher following a challenge by Marvin Sordell.
Although Wilder acknowledged there was nothing malicious about the 26-year-old’s intentions, he confirmed United’s midfielder playmaker is facing a long spell on the sidelines.
Two goals from Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke’s late effort saw his team move a point ahead of second-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers.
But Wilder said afterwards: “I think you’ll understand why everybody is a little bit subdued in the dressing room.
“Couttsy is a great lad and a popular lad so, although we’re pleased to be where we are, our first thoughts are with him.”
Nigel Clough, the Burton Albion manager, was responsible for signing Coutts during his 19 month reign at Bramall Lane.
He also expressed concerns about his former player’s predicament and Wilder added: “Nigel told me he (Sordell) doesn’t have it in him to do anything untoward and I totally accept that.
“I thought it was a foul and a penalty but I know Nigel is right and I’d never doubt him anyway.”
United were awarded one when Sharp was sent tumbling in the box before recovering to convert the resulting spot-kick.
Matty Palmer dragged Albion level with a spectacular long-range finish but Sharp’s second of the match and a late strike from Clarke, his fifth in two matches, saw United overtake big-spending Wolverhampton ahead of their visit to Reading this afternoon.
“The lads needed lifting a little bit after what happened (to Coutts),” Wilder said.
“But I thought they were absolutely outstanding out there against opponents who will cause people a lot of problems here this season.”