Dean Henderson knows he has to take every chance he gets at Manchester United. And the 24-year-old has done that in some style.
In David de Gea’s absence, Henderson has shone; keeping clean sheets in three successive league games including a must-win derby clash where one goal proved decisive.
While the young United stopper was at fault for AC Milan’s equaliser in the first leg of their Europa League tie, his overall record for the first-team is brilliant.
He also stepped up in the second leg, brilliantly saving a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic effort and ensuring United kept a much-needed clean sheet.
In just 18 outings, Henderson has 12 clean sheets. And now he is backing up the hype in big games.
The City clash was the perfect example. He proved unbeatable and United’s defenders – so often maligned this season – look increasingly confident despite the relative rookie behind them.
In contrast, De Gea has been shaky on too many occasions to justify his continued inclusion as undisputed number one.
Thursday’s clash was another example. United went into the game knowing they had to score. But a goal for the hosts would have changed everything and the young stopper stood firm.
It was telling that De Gea remained on the bench last week. Having returned from paternity leave, he could have easily slipped back into the fold.
Instead, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rewarded Henderson for his fine recent form. And he was not let down.
Record too good to ignore
De Gea’s wages, his experience and his standing in the squad have made him undroppable for too long.
That should no longer be the case. Henderson may be relatively young, but his commanding presence is making United better.
Not only is the 24-year-old impressing, he is also making the defenders in front of him look far more solid.
It is no surprise that United have kept six clean sheets in their last seven games. Henderson has played in all but one of them.
Goalkeepers are paid to keep the ball out of the net. With 12 clean sheets in 18 United appearances, Henderson is doing that better than most.