Paul Coutts knows what it takes to succeed in the English Championship – and he has backed Kenny McLean to do the same.
Former Cove Rangers midfielder Coutts has plenty of experience of the division.
He is now with Sheffield United and was one of the stand-out players in the Championship at the start of the recently-concluded season, before breaking his leg last November.
Coutts has also played in the league with Peterborough United, Preston North End and Derby County.
He is well qualified to talk about the level and he believes former Aberdeen man McLean has what it takes to be a star in the Championship.
McLean has been with the Dons since January 2015 and is away with Alex McLeish’s Scotland squad.
He won his fourth cap in yesterday’s 2-0 loss to Peru and could face Mexico on Sunday. After returning from international duty and a summer break the former St Mirren player will join new club Norwich City.
The Canaries signed McLean in January for £200,000 before loaning him back to the Reds for the rest of the last campaign.
Coutts, 29, believes McLean can be a big success in the Championship next term.
He said: “I watch Aberdeen whenever they are on the TV and he has been part of a really good midfield over the last few years.
“He will be a big miss for them. I don’t know him personally, but from watching from afar as an Aberdeen fan you can tell he will be a huge miss.
“Hopefully he will do well down here in the Championship. He is a really good player and you don’t have to see much of him to tell that.
“It will be good to see how he gets on in the league, adapting to the tempo and the physicality.
“It will be a different environment for him so it will be good to see how he gets on.
“This season, Sunderland beat Wolves and that was a team who had been relegated beating the champions.
“There’s not much between sides and it’s physical.
“Every ball is fought for and scrapped for, and there are some really good players.
“It will be interesting to see how Kenny does, but I think he will do really well.
“He’s a clever player and has a great left foot.
“We’ll have to see how he adapts but if he hits the ground running and carries on his form from Aberdeen I don’t see why he can’t do something similar to James Maddison.
“He clearly has all the ability, it’s just about how he settles into a new environment and a new area. All that comes into it.
“But footballing wise he has a good chance of succeeding.”
Coutts, who played for Cove between 2005 and 2008, thinks Norwich’s style of play under German boss Daniel Farke will suit McLean.
He also believes the Carrow Road side will be aiming for the promotion places next term.
Coutts has also been hugely impressed with former Dons loanee Maddison, who scored 15 goals and provided 11 assists last season as well as making his debut for England’s Under-21s.
Coutts added: “They could suit Kenny’s style because of the way they play.
“When we played them at Brammall Lane they beat us 1-0.
“We must have had 80% of the ball but we just couldn’t score.
“I’ve only seen a little bit of them this season, but they looked really good tactically and difficult to break down.
“They have some good players in their side such as Maddison, who Aberdeen fans will know well.
“They will be looking to push back towards the top end of the division next season.
“Maddison had a great season and a few of the guys I played with knew him when he went up to Aberdeen. He showed glimpses up there and when he has come back to England he has taken it to the next level. He is involved with England U21s as well so he has done really well.
“He’s a clever player who is difficult to pick up.”
Coutts is working his way back from a fractured tibia suffered last November and hopes to be ready for a first-team return with the Blades early next season.
He said: “I have a six-week programme for over the summer, which will hopefully leave me midway through pre-season joining in with the guys again.
“It’s quite hard to gauge but hopefully I’ll get some minutes under my belt in pre-season.
“Once it gets closer I’ll have more idea.
“But I’m hoping to try to get in contention close to the start of the season, if not the first game.
“I’ll see how it goes. It’s just about how I react in pre-season.
“I feel fit physically, but I haven’t done much ballwork or training with the lads which is a totally different thing to just running.”