Chris Wilder last night told Sheffield United supporters they can help soften the blow of losing Paul Coutts to injury by giving their unequivocal backing to the midfielder’s replacement.
John Lundstram, Samir Carruthers and Chris Basham are the leading contenders to deputise for Coutts against Fulham this evening, after the 29-year-old was ruled-out for the rest of the season with a broken leg.
Citing the “connection” between United fans and the first team squad as a key factor behind his team’s climb to second in the Championship table, Wilder said: “This should be, for me, one of the best atmospheres of the season in terms of the supporters pushing to team on through this period. The backing whether it’s Lunny, whether’s it’s Bash or whether it’s Sammy who plays in there, they need to feel to warmth of the supporters. It’s big that they get that backing and that freedom to go and play.
“I don’t ask our supporters for much because they’ve been brilliant, different class in fact, ever since I came here. But I am asking them for something now.”
Coutts, who fractured a tibia during Friday’s victory over Burton Albion, has been released from hospital after doctors advised he did not require surgery. Lundstram, a summer signing from Oxford, replaced the Scot at the Pirelli Stadium while Carruthers, previously of MK Dons, is also hoping for a start when Slaviša Jokanović’s side visit Bramall Lane.
“They are good players,” Wilder said. “They are relatively new to Championship football. It’s not an expensively assembled squad, we don’t have a £7m player ready to come in.
“These are players we have plucked out because we think they’ve got something. It’s not comparisons we need. Just the recognition that these are genuine, decent players we have bought to improve and be a part of the future. It might take whoever a little bit of time to get going. But they must be given the opportunity and the freedom to produce their best performances.”
“Some players don’t give a monkeys about the supporters, some supporters don’t give a monkeys about players,” Wilder added. “I think there’s a genuine connection here because of the players and their attitude. If they give 100 per cent effort, they will always get 100 per cent backing.”