Sheffield United: Dean Henderson won't be put-off by the boo-boys

Being on-loan from Manchester United, Dean Henderson is guaranteed to receive a hostile reception from Liverpool's travelling fans.

Thursday, 26th September 2019, 2:29 pm
Updated Saturday, 28th September 2019, 2:54 pm
Sheffield United's Oliver McBurnie (left), goalkeeper Dean Henderson and Chris Basham (right) celebrates: Tim Goode/PA Wire.
Sheffield United's Oliver McBurnie (left), goalkeeper Dean Henderson and Chris Basham (right) celebrates: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

The animosity between the two clubs runs deeper than the Mersey. Geography, politics and the pursuit of silverware have all helped to fuel their rivalry.

But Chris Wilder, after describing the 22-year-old as "England's best young goalkeeper", knows the barbs and snide comments are only likely to bring out the best in Henderson. Something, as Sheffield United prepare to face the reigning European champions, he accepts the former England under-21 international is going to have to produce if his team wants to secure a positive result.

"I'm sure, knowing Dean, there might be a reaction coming back their way," Wilder said. "That's part and parcel of his character, so long as he doesn't overstep the mark and concentrates on his job, then it's all good by me.

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"I love his personality, he loves the big games. I'm sure he's really looking forward to the occasion just as much as everyone else is. We can't wait to get started."

Wilder's comments not only provide an insight into Henderson's character, explaining why he appears destined to reach the very highest level, they also served as a reminder to the former England under-21 international's colleagues about the attitude United's staff want them to adopt against Jurgen Klopp's side.

"I don't want my players being starry eyed, asking about swapping shirts and asking their players to be signing this or that," Wilder, who led United to promotion last term, continued. "We are in this game on a level playing field as a Premier League club. The gap between the clubs is huge but we want to make that smaller. If you ask all our players before the game, they want to get stuck into the opposition. I don't want Liverpool coming into our backyard thinking 'thanks, that was the easiest three points we've had all season.' We want an 'over our dead bodies' approach."

With Klopp expected to select Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino for the trip to South Yorkshire - an attacking triumvirate probably now worth nearly £200m - Henderson is preparing himself for a challenging afternoon. But Wilder hopes United's defence ensure it is a psychologically demanding experience for the youngster, as he seeks to maintain concentration in the maelstrom. Not a physical one, where he is required to make save after save after save. Last weekend's victory at Everton, where Henderson had very little to do despite the hosts' first-half dominance, provides the template to follow.

"There's always a one-off result in any division in any period," Wilder said, acknowledging Liverpool have not lost a top-flight fixture since January. "The game isn't decided before the kick-off and anything can happen either way. We are just concentrating on our shape and discipline and attacking when we can. There's going to be large periods of the game when we are on the back foot, we know that. But we have got to keep that and take care of the details."