The midfielder has been absent since November after fracturing a tibia during the 3-1 win over Burton Albion but has been a regular visitor to the club’s Steelphalt Academy training complex in recent months.
Although Coutts will not play again this season, Chris Wilder revealed last night the speed of his recovery has prompted a review of United plans for the summer transfer market.
The United manager, who signed Lee Evans from Wolverhampton Wanderers following the 29-year-old’s diagnosis, explained: “He (Coutts) has got Championship experience so that’s good.
“We want him back and then there’s four or five really good midfield players. That department, with Lee coming in and improving it, with Flecky, John (Lundstram) and Ryan (Leonard), who gives us a different style if we need it, I don’t think they’ll be much change there in that department. The competition is good.”
Coutts’ importance to the United cause, and in particular his partnership with Fleck, was underlined when United, having climbed to the top of the Championship table after that victory over Albion, Wilder’s side went on to win only one of their next nine games.
With coaching staff suspecting Lundstram would take time to settle in following his summer move from Oxford - the former England youth international has begun to realise his potential in recent weeks - Coutts’ absence affected both the dynamic and rhythm of United’s play until Evans’ arrival in January.
“Paul is coming on well, it’s good,” Wilder said. “He’s been about the place and working very hard. He’s a determined guy and I think he’ll have been enjoying what he’s seen. He’ll have been enjoying the journey and he’ll be desperate to get involved as soon as possible.
“He’s at every game, he’s at every home game. Of course it was a big blow and he’s a popular guy. The sooner we get him back the better.”