A season in the Europa League would be perfect for Dean Henderson

There aren’t too many positions where Manchester United have a host of options these days but goalkeeper is one of them.

A report from the Sun this week about the futures of experienced backups Lee Grant and Sergio Romero put the situation between the sticks onto centre stage again.

With Dean Henderson continuing to impress on loan at Sheffield United, how best for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to organise his stoppers next season?

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Bring him back to United?

The Sun report that United are gearing up for both Romero and Grant to leave this summer.

Grant is third choice goalkeeper and that mantle could quite easily be taken up by Matej Kovar, new-boy Nathan Bishop or Joel Pereira, who is currently out on loan at Hearts.

The fate of second-choice Romero brings Henderson’s future into sharper focus and perhaps there’s a case to be made for bringing him back to be David de Gea’s deputy.

Perhaps if de Gea had Henderson offering him stiff competition this season, his form would have been better or Solskjaer would have been able to make a change between the sticks, most notably after the gaffe at Watford in December.

But the MEN report that Henderson has told friends he’s not interested in being at Old Trafford unless he is the recognised number one.

It is impossible to dispute how much his game has come along while getting regular gametime at Bramall Lane, so could Sheffield United’s push for Europe provide the perfect option next season?

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A new test?

Henderson is in the middle of his second straight season on loan with the Blades and it is likely they’d be interested in engineering a third.

Each campaign has brought a fresh test; last term was his first in the Championship, this year has seen him make his Premier League bow.

It shouldn’t be ruled out that Henderson will be England’s first choice goalkeeper by the time Euro 2020 kicks off given his form by comparison to Jordan Pickford.

Perhaps if Sheffield United qualify for the Europa League next season, exposure to European football would be the fresh test Henderson needs to keep pushing on and ensure he is absolutely ready to perform at Old Trafford.

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When de Gea was in his pomp, being second choice with the Reds may have been the realistic limit of Henderson’s ambitions.

Now, as he starts to creak and Henderson has established himself as a top flight goalkeeper – with as many clean sheets as anyone so far this term – the Englishman now has to get enough experience to prove he can be number one.

Henderson is impressive now, but by 2021, he could have two Premier League seasons, as well as European and international experience behind him. That would put him on another level. Bramall Lane looks the best place for him to continue his development.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.