Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been measured in his recent assessment of Dean Henderson, who has done his utmost to push the Manchester United boss into a corner.
The young goalkeeper has been allowed to stake his case for the No 1 spot at Old Trafford.
David de Gea returned to Spain following the birth of his first child and Henderson was afforded a run of six straight games.
There have been calls for Henderson to replace the Spaniard ever since his return to Manchester, but Solskjaer has so far ignored them.
De Gea still has over two years to run on a mammoth deal which leaves United in a difficult predicament, especially given Henderson’s desire to play regularly.
The young goalkeeper is in a similar scenario with England, where he will spend the coming weeks.
Jordan Pickford commands a start which has left Henderson to play second fiddle.
His lack of club minutes is hampering his international ambitions, so its an unfortunate vicious circle for Henderson as he tries to prove his worth.
But with Pickford out injured, Henderson now looks set for his chance in this week’s World Cup qualifiers.
Solskjaer, like Gareth Southgate, has regularly backed his first choice and recently hit back at suggestions that his time may be up,
“I’m not blind,” he said. “I have seen the media in the last couple of weeks, with people writing David off. That is completely wrong. David is a top, top goalkeeper.”
He went on to say that he would not have a “undisputed No 1”.
Henderson, in his six games, has kept four clean sheets and conceded four times.
Solskjaer though has been keen to praise, question and state his expectations throughout his short period in between the sticks.
Man Utd 0-0 Crystal Palace – March 3
Henderson’s first start was in a drab goalless draw at Selhurst Park – but it could’ve been a defeat had he not intervened.
Palace had a late chance, albeit with a suspicion of offside, but Patrick van Aanholt was thwarted by an alert goalkeeper.
United’s dominance in games will render their No 1 irrelevant for large periods, so Solskjaer was even more impressed with his efforts.
He said: “Yes, but that’s a Man Utd goalkeeper. Sometimes you have to keep your concentration and he’s growing into that position.
“It was a great save and I thought I didn’t know if it was off or not so I thank him for one point and not zero.”
Man City 0-2 Man Utd – March 7
The visitors were always going to have to soak up large amounts of pressure against the league leaders.
But they have enjoyed previous trips to the Etihad and this was another memorable one.
Henderson playing a key role in their second goal as his bullet throw out to left-back Luke Shaw set them on their way to score.
“He’s just growing, getting more mature, so very, very happy with him,” Solskjaer said of his goalkeeper’s second assignment.
“His presence out there, you know there’s a future top, top keeper out there.”
Man Utd 1-1 AC Milan – March 11
The only goal Henderson conceded during his spell where at least some of the blame laid at his doorstep.
United were looking to hold on to their lead in stoppage time.
It wasn’t to be though as Simon Kjaer’s header levelled the scores, although his effort was relatively central to Henderson who couldn’t keep it out.
“It’s a header from six yards, he (Henderson) can save it of course,” said Solskajer. “I have seen him save them but it’s the structure we lose.”
AC Milan 0-1 Man Utd – March 18
Henderson responded from his error with a clean sheet in a win over West Ham days later.
He and United were then faced with a trip to San Siro where the stakes were high.
A narrow win was enough to see them through, but Henderson needed to make a crucial save from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Solskjaer was pleased to see his goalkeeper produce yet didn’t hide his frustration from a week ago.
“It’s a save he should have made last week,” he said. “Very similar. Very pleased for him, of course. Great save.
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“The team is always giving us everything. It starts from the front with the pressing front four really high energy pressing, the back six and keeper, we know what they can do.
“Very happy with the defensive foundation, that gives you the platform to go and win games.”