Manchester United have told goalkeeper Dean Henderson that he should be prepared to start the team’s next six games in all competitions, with Spaniard David de Gea away for personal reasons.
De Gea missed Wednesday’s 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace, after which manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to put a timeframe on his return to the team, suggesting Henderson may well be set for an extended run.
Well, according to the Manchester Evening News, that’s exactly the case as Henderson has been told he could play six games on the bounce, giving him the chance to start consecutive matches for the first time this season.
Henderson will be chomping at the bit for the chance to strut his stuff consistently, having been restricted to just 13 appearances before Wednesday’s game, but it could end up being something of a baptism of fire.
Next up for United is the short trip across Manchester to face league leaders City, who have won 21 games in a row, before Serie A high-flyers AC Milan rock up to Old Trafford for the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie.
We’ll see the David Moyes derby as West Ham come to town before the return leg against Milan at San Siro, and the FA Cup quarter-final tie with Leicester City will bring a temporary end to club football in March.
It may be the chance Henderson has been waiting for. There have been plenty of calls from fans for the 23-year-old to be permanently promoted to the starting lineup, with De Gea’s form faltering over the last few months (years?), and Solskjaer hailed Henderson as a hero after his 90th-minute save denied Patrick van Aanholt and saw United pick up a hard-fought point against Palace.
“I can’t really say about David, it’s a private matter,” Solskjaer said. “Dean is ready if he’s called upon, you saw that. He kept his concentration.
“I think maybe it would have been called offside [against Van Aanholt] but at the moment I thought that Dean saved us a point because it looked like that was a deciding moment and that was probably the biggest chance of the game, apart from Marcus in the first half.”
Reports have suggested that Henderson is prepared to leave United this summer if Solskjaer does not agree to make him the undisputed number one, so this could be his chance to prove he deserves it.