No divided loyalties for Dean Henderson as Sheffield United steel themselves to face Man Utd
Rather than deliver yet another eulogy about Dean Henderson’s performances in the Premier League this season, Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder preferred to talk about Simon Moore, Michael Verrips, Jake Eastwood and Darren Ward, Bramall Lane’s goalkeeping coach, ahead of his team’s visit to Old Trafford.
“It’s not a time to be mentioning Dean,” Wilder said, reminding the 23-year-old - on loan from Manchester United - is ineligible for selection against his parent club. “He’s not going to be playing, he’s not going to be involved, someone else will be instead.”
But even though he will sit out the meeting with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side - United’s third outing since the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ was rolled out earlier this month - Wilder did confirm Henderson is committed to ensuring his deputy - most likely Moore - is prepared to face the 20-time English champions.
“He’s bought into it, it’s not a one month loan or a three month loan, he’s been here for the best part of two years,” Wilder said. “You buy into the football club. When Dean goes, whenever that is, Sheffield United will hold a special place in his heart. Dean will back who plays in place of him.”
Henderson has excelled since first moving to South Yorkshire in the summer of 2018 - helping United win promotion from the Championship last term before renewing his temporary agreement. No one has kept more clean sheets in the competition so far this term - a statistic which, combined with the youngster’s agility and positional sense, has prompted many commentators to suggest, not only should he replace David de Gea between the posts at Manchester United next season, but that Gareth Southgate should also select him for England ahead of Jordan Pickford.
Although Henderson has made no secret of the fact he views himself as de Gea’s replacement in waiting, Wilder told The Star he is doing everything within his powers to help United produce a winning performance in the North-West on Wednesday evening.
“You say what Simon said not so long ago,” Wilder added, “About how all the goalkeepers here, including Michael, Jake and Darren as well, are such a tight knit bunch. They are really good lads, really good people and there’s a personal ambition among them all to play. But when one gets the nod, they all close ranks and help to make sure he gets the best possible preparation.”
Henderson is not the only key member of Wilder’s squad set to miss the contest, with Jack O’Connell nursing an injury and his fellow centre-half John Egan suspended after being dismissed during the second-half of Sunday’s defeat at Newcastle.
David McGoldrick and Phil Jagielka are both receiving treatment for injuries but, according to Wilder, should recover in time to face Manchester United.
“We’ve got some things to think about, as everyone knows, but we’re going there believing that we can do it. That’s the way we go into every single game, no matter who it is against.”