The Rams today have confirmed the signing of Preston midfielder Paul Coutts. The 23 year old has sign for Derby on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee, thought to be £125,00. Derby have beaten off a number of Championship rivals to secure the former Scotland under-21’s services. The Rams’ second summer signing will join up with team mates on Monday to train for the first time. The midfielder can play central midfield or as a winger.
Derby manager Nigel Clough on the deal: “We are delighted to secure the services of Paul and bring him to Pride Park, as he is someone who has been on our radar for some time. He is only 23, so he is still young, but he knows the division well from his time at both Peterborough and Preston – where he has always done well against us – and we’re all really looking forward to working with him. He’s got the potential to improve, but he is already more than capable of performing at Championship level and we believe he will be a very good addition to the squad.”
Coutts’s career didn’t begin well when he was rejected by Aberdeen as a 16-year-old, after spending a year in their youth set up. Aberdeen was the club he supported as a boy. Upon his release from Aberdeen he joined Highland Football League side Cove Rangers in 2005. During his time at Cove rangers he was part of their title winning side in 2007/08, that year Coutts won the league’s player of the year. After that title winning season he joint up with Darren Ferguson’s then League One side Peterborough United on a three year deal following a successful trial. In Paul Coutts’ first season with Peterborough, he made 37 league appearances and 4 FA Cup appearances as well as a Football League Trophy apperance as The Posh gained promotion to the Championship. In his first season in the Championship the midfielder made a respectful 16 appearances before joining Preston North End in February 2010 when former Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson was in charge at the Lancashire club. He made a further 13 league appearances in 2009/10 as he finished the season with his new club Preston. Coutts was a regular during the 2010/11 season making 27 appearances and scoring 2 goals in all competitions, Darren Ferguson was sacked that season and ended up re-joining Peterborough United while Phil Brown was brought in, but couldn’t prevent relegation. Phil Brown was sacked in December 2011 as the club didn’t adapt to life in the third tier. After Brown’s dismissal Coutts was made captain. Graham Westley was brought in as new manager in January and allowed Coutts to continue with his captaincy role. However in February Westley stripped Coutts of the captaincy saying he was unimpressed with his attitude. He did remain a regular for that season, clocking up 46 appearances and 2 goals in all competitions. Ahead of this season The Scotsman was told via text message not to report to pre-season training as he was not in manager Graham Westley’s plans. He did turn down a move to Peterborough in favour of joining The Rams while Birmingham City were also reportedly interested. The midfielder has 8 caps to his name for the Scottish under-21 side.