Tonight’s Carabao Cup semi-final is a big test for Manchester United. It is also a referendum on how much trust Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has in back-up goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
The start to the season suggests quite a bit. Henderson has played in three Premier League matches and one Champions League game, in addition to all three rounds of the Carabao Cup.
The rotation has been working up until now. So it would be a big blow to Henderson if he was dropped for the semi-final with City.
Henderson has been immaculate in the competition to date, keeping three clean sheets in earlier rounds as United progressed comfortably to the semi-final.
But he may not be confident of starting. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has form for going back to David de Gea when it really matters.
Last season in all three semi-final match-ups Solskjaer went with De Gea over Sergio Romero. The Argentine is still reeling from that blow, and unfortunately it didn’t help United out either.
This seemed a rare case of Solskjaer getting his man-management wrong. Will he do the same with Henderson?
Henderson will be upset of course to miss out. Rumours of a loan move may begin to swirl again.
The one plus side for Solskjaer is that he can promise Henderson the chance to start in the FA Cup days later against Watford at Old Trafford.
This may be small comfort for Henderson. He will worry that even if he helps United get to the latter stages of the competition, he will end up being replaced.
De Gea is playing well
After he was criticised amid United’s Champions League exit, De Gea has responded perfectly.
He was named in the BBC Team of the Week for his recent displays, making crucial stops against Wolves and Aston Villa to keep United on top at key times.
It will be very tempting for Solskjaer to put him in against City, despite Henderson’s own qualities. The stand-in impressed in the away win at Goodison Park last month.
Henderson has more than earned his shot, but the Watford game coming so close to this one way give Solskjaer the leeway he feels he needs in order to stick with De Gea and play United’s strongest side and get over the semi-final hump.
There is no easy decision for this one. We asked on social media who should get the nod, and there was a very split response…
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