Sheffield United: Paul Coutts has provided The Blades with another Steel City derby option

Bramall Lane stages Friday's Steel City derby
Bramall Lane stages Friday's Steel City derby

Paul Coutts' return to fitness has provided Sheffield United with greater tactical flexibility ahead of Friday's Steel City derby, according to manager Chris Wilder.

The midfielder, who spent 11 months on the sidelines with a broken leg, has been a regular fixture in United's matchday squads since recovering from injury and started the meeting with Nottingham Forest.

Despite concerns that Oliver Norwood's presence would limit his chances, Coutts' ability to perform in a more advanced role has seen the majority of his appearances this term come as a substitute for Mark Duffy. 

Usually introduced when Wilder senses a change in the dynamic of a game, his availability has allowed United to make the kind of subtle adjustments which, the 51-year-old believes, is a sign of their progress.

"He has come back and played in the three in midfield," Wilder said. "We have that flexibility.
"We talked about it last summer; what worked for us, what didn’t work for us. And we've tried to address that."

Although there is no secret to the attitude United plan to take into their meeting with Sheffield Wednesday, Wilder insists it is a mistake to portray them as one trick 3-5-2 ponies.

"We have altered different bits," he said. "We played a diamond this year, which has worked for us, we have played 4-3-3. 
"There are not major changes, but Paul slots in there, whether it’s a diamond or as a sitter."