Sheffield United: The reason Dean Henderson moved to Bramall Lane is revealed'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹'‹
At the end of last season, when Chris Wilder began compiling a list of goalkeeping targets, one essential quality emerged.
Every name put forward, whether they made the final cut or not, must be able to produce big saves at big moments. It was, Sheffield United's manager insisted, a pre-requisite.
Wilder's search, which included an exhaustive trawl through top-flight squad lists, eventually led him to League One. Despite being on the books of Manchester United, it was Dean Henderson's performances for unfancied Shrewsbury which prompted Wilder to act.
"Dean comes up trumps when it matters," he said. "He's got that ability which is why we tried to get him and fortunately we did. "If you want to compete, you've got to have that. Because, if you want to be up there when things are decided, you've got to come through those decisive periods in games."
Henderson's performances since arriving on loan suggest Wilder's faith is not misplaced. Indeed, his contribution to Wednesday's goalless draw with Birmingham City is the reason why United are preparing for this weekend's game against Preston North End sixth in the table.
"Dean made some good saves, some really important saves, and that's why we brought him in," Wilder continued. "But it wasn't just down to him and he's got to keep those performance levels up because we've got two other really good 'keepers here."
Competition for places:
Although Jake Eastwood is highly-regarded after graduating from the Steelphalt Academy, Simon Moore is Henderson's greatest rival for a first team jersey by virtue of his greater experience. The 28-year-old, previously of Cardiff City, was a key member of the squad which gained promotion from League One 17 months ago and agreed a new contract earlier this summer.
"These lads push each other," Wilder said. "They've got to because that competition is vital. I want difficult decisions to make and I want people having to fight hard to keep the shirt. That's what we've got right now but it has to continue right until the end."