Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins paid tribute to Florent Cuvelier after the midfielder ended his injury nightmare against Port Vale last weekend.
The former Belgium under-21 international, who last featured for United on Boxing Day in 2014, made an impressive half-hour cameo during Saturday’s 1-0 win at Bramall Lane, which sent United seventh in League One.
The 23-year-old joined United from Stoke City after loan spells at Walsall and Peterborough, but tore the anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees during a loan spell at Port Vale. A succession of niggling injuries hampered his comeback, and a spell at Burton Albion was cut short due to a hamstring complaint.
But after catching the eye on Saturday against Robert Page’s Vale, Adkins said of Cuvelier: “We’re delighted to have him back. He deserves all the praise which comes his way... his attitude since we came in has been exemplary. Which is exactly what you need from a player who has been out that long.
“He’s had setback after setback but kept working so hard. We can help him, of course, but at the end of the day it’s him that has to put in the work and, credit to him, he’s done that.
“He’s now at the stage where he knows his body is strong, he has confidence in himself and I have confidence in him, too, first to put him on the bench and then to bring him on at an important stage of the game. It’s been difficult for him to get in the side because of the sheer amount of players we have, but his attitude has been first class.”
Adkins, who admitted it had been a “challenging week” after Jose Baxter was suspended after failing another drug test, refused to comment on the former Everton and Oldham midfielder’s situation.