Sheffield United: Paul Coutts prepares to be let off the leash following a 10 month absence

Paul Coutts will feature against Sheffield FC tomorrow night
Paul Coutts will feature against Sheffield FC tomorrow night

Paul Coutts has spent the last six weeks encouraging, cajoling and finally demanding that Sheffield United grant him a return to action.

Tomorrow night, after watching last weekend's victory over Aston Villa from the bench, the midfielder is set to get his wish when Chris Wilder's squad visits Sheffield FC for Matt Roney's testimonial.

Paul Coutts is on the comeback trail

Paul Coutts is on the comeback trail

Despite naming Coutts on the team sheet against Villa, United's manager later admitted sentiment and a handful of minor selection issues had influenced his picks for that game. Instead the trip to Dronfield, which is expected to be a much more serene affair, was always pencilled-in as Coutts' comeback date.

"He's been bugging the life out of me for about a fortnight," Wilder said. "So in the end I relented and thought 'why not?' We had a couple of issues and so the opportunity was there. But this one, at Sheffield, was always going to be the one when he actually got involved."

Wilder is not usually swayed by emotion when it comes to football. So, after responding to Coutts' pleas ahead of the meeting with Steve Bruce's side, it came as no surprise to learn he had been calculating too.
Having not featured since breaking a leg in November, Coutts' return to the fold created a stir among supporters and, given their explosive start en route to a 4-1 success, seemingly in United's dressing room as well.

"We wanted a quick start and we managed to get it," Wilder continued. "There was no way he was every going to come on but it gave us a little bit of a lift and it gave the punters one too when they saw his name come up.

“There wasn’t any harm in it. We weren’t going to lose anything or set Couttsy back so we just thought ‘do it’ and that was that.”

Having underlined his importance to the United cause last season – they slipped from first to 10th in his absence – news of Coutts’  progress has come at an important moment for Wilder’s team who climbed to third after dismantling Villa.

“We know what he can bring on the pitch and he’s a great influence off it,” Wilder said. “That’s why we want to make sure we do this bit of his rehabilitation right. Not just chuck him straight back out.”