Sheffield United fans gave Paul Coutts an emotional reception tonight as the Blades midfielder made his first-team return - 324 days after breaking his leg.
Coutts came on for Mark Duffy in United's game away at Blackburn Rovers' Ewood Park, which they won 2-0 thanks to skipper Billy Sharp's brace.
But it was the sight of Coutts ending his long absence from the Blades side which delighted the travelling 2,057 fans from Sheffield as he replaced Duffy in the 73rd minute.
“It was a highlight for me, when Paul stepped back out onto that pitch,” boss Chris Wilder said.
”Full credit to him for his hard work, and also his family and the medical staff here. Him being back is going to give me a selection headache now.”
Kevin Gage, the former Blades favourite, said: "Could be looking at our future midfield here. Instead of midfield triangle with Duffy at top, think upside down triangle with Coutts at base and Oli Norwood and John Fleck driving and passing/probing forward."
Blackburn 'keeper David Raya kept his side in the game after a first-half that saw Duffy, Jack O'Connell and David McGoldrick test him, the latter with a sublime curling effort that the Rovers stopper did well to tip over.
Sharp broke the deadlock by stabbing home, following superb work from Duffy. He beat two men and fed Fleck, whose pass found McGoldrick who fed the ball across goal. A combination of goalkeeper and defender kept the initial effort out, but Sharp stabbed the rebound home.
His second came from Enda Stevens' cross, but it was the return of Coutts that arguably stole the show on another impressive night for Wilder's Blades.