Paul Coutts admits he’s playing for his future – but is hoping to earn a fourth promotion in English football with Salford City.
The Aberdonian, who started his senior career with Cove Rangers in the Highland League, has joined the ambitious Ammies on loan and hopes to help them get out of League Two.
Midfielder Coutts was captain and a regular for parent club Fleetwood Town in League One.
But following the sacking of manager Joey Barton last month month Coutts, who is in the final six months of his contract, was surprisingly told he could leave on loan.
During his 13-year career in England, Coutts has previously won promotion with Peterborough and twice with Sheffield United.
With Salford – who are part-owned by Manchester United’s fabled Class of 92 – eighth in League Two and just four points outside the automatic promotion spots, Coutts hopes to be part of another promotion.
The 32-year-old said: “You’re always playing for your future – but when you’re coming to the end of your contract you need to be playing regularly.
“Fleetwood made it clear that they weren’t going to be able to play me, so I couldn’t sit around for the last few months of my contract and hope there would be something there in the summer.
“I had to stay active and when Salford came up it ticked all the boxes: it’s an ambitious club, a chance of promotion, a good up-and-coming manager in Ritchie Wellens and it’s local.
“It was something that excited me to be a part of.
“League Two is wide open and, with teams having shutdowns because of Covid and things, it’s difficult to get consistency.
“If a team can put a run together at the right time then they’d have a right good chance of promotion.
“So for me it appealed to have the chance to go and be part of something and hopefully earn something for next season off the back of it.
“It would be great if I could be part of another promotion. I’ve had three already as well as a few play-off campaigns that haven’t gone to plan.
“The automatic spots are the ones you’re after and there’s three spaces up for grabs in League Two.
“This is my first experience of League Two, but I’ll be trying to do the best I can for Salford.”
When it comes to his former Fleetwood manager Barton, Coutts has nothing but praise and has enjoyed working with him over the last 18 months.
The former Preston and Derby player added: “He was really good for me. He looked after me well in terms of managing me and managing my body at the age I’m at.
“He allowed me input on certain things in the coaching room and things. I was always welcomed in and allowed to have an input.
“Not a lot of people get a chance to spend time with Joey and realise how intelligent and how much of a student of the game he is.
“It was great to pick his brains about certain things, he was 24/7 football studying, watching games, looking at tactics, formations, patterns of play.
“It was great for me at the stage I’m at, thinking about doing my coaching badges and looking at that side of things.
“On a personal level I got on great with him. When Joey left it was a shock and a disappointment.”