Sheffield United: Dean Henderson on the future, his friendship with Scott Carson and why one corner of Cumbria will come to a halt when Chris Wilder’s side face Derby County

Dean Henderson hails from Whitehaven
Dean Henderson hails from Whitehaven

This weekend, when Sheffield United face Derby County in front of the television cameras, a far-flung corner of Cumbria will come grinding to a halt.

Neither club boasts a following in Whitehaven. Rugby League, not football, is the locals' sporting drug of choice.

So does Scott Carson, of Derby County

So does Scott Carson, of Derby County

But with Dean Henderson and Scott Carson both hailing from the town, goings-on at the Recreation Ground, where Carl Forster's men dominate the back page headlines, can take a back seat for 90 minutes.

"I know Scott really well," Henderson, the United goalkeeper, said. "He is from Cleator Moor, the next town along and we've got mates of mates and stuff like that. 

"I spoke to him last year for a bit of advice. He's a top bloke and I really looked up to him as a young lad.

"When I was growing up, I wanted to be like him and Joe Hart. But especially Scott because he's from my area."

Although no love will be lost between them at Pride Park, Henderson's respect for his opposite number is evident. Indeed, speaking ahead of the encounter between two promotion chasing teams, the 21-year-old admitted he will ask Carson for a memento of their meeting no matter what the result.

"He is experienced and has done everything," Henderson said of his fellow goalkeeper. "He's played for England and played abroad. It is always good to pick his brains. 

"It will be good to play against him and I will nick his shirt off him. Scott has always played from a very young age and I think he should have been capped many more times than he actually was. Definitely if you ask me."

Henderson, on loan from Manchester United, has made no secret of his ambition to follow in Carson's footsteps by becoming a senior international. He took a major step towards fulfilling that ambition earlier this month when, after reaching the top of the Championship with United, he helped England's under-21 side qualify for next summer's European Championship finals.

"The way the manager is, Gareth Southgate, he gives young lads an opportunity," Henderson, reflecting on his recent outings for the Young Lions, continued. "He spoke to us all before the game against Andorra and said it's a great time to be a young English player. He told us that if we keep impressing, then hopefully we'll get that shout."

"We all stay at St George's Park, he keeps in regular contact with everyone across the groups and gives us good advice if we need it. To see him and all the 'Big Dogs' walking around the place, it gives you that incentive to go to the next level. You learn off them, watch what they do and become even more determined to do what they're doing."

If Henderson is to achieve his target, helping United secure Premier League status would mark another important step. They have prepared for the meeting with Frank Lampard's team a point ahead of second-placed West Bromwich Albion but knowing the opposition, who recently defeated Henderson's parent club in the EFL Cup, have not lost at home since mid-August.

The prospect of breaking that record, and securing United's fifth straight league win in the process, is likely to appeal to Henderson who attributes his personality and focus to being raised in one of the remotest parts of the country; an area built on coal, tobacco importation and now the nuclear complex Sellafield.  

"I always think about where I am from, where we had nothing and everything was just work," he said. "People are still into shoes which came out years ago and stuff. When I'm in Manchester, shoes come out and they do not hit Whitehaven for another year and a half afterwards.

"I remember being a kid and had the same pair of shoes for a full year and just used them for everything. It is a place where there is not a lot going on and it helped me in the sense where I just practiced all of the time. 

"Because there is not a lot going on as well, you want to go and achieve something and make a name for yourself."

After detailing how the outlook of Chris Wilder and his staff fits perfectly with his own, Henderson has refused to dismiss the possibility of remaining in South Yorkshire beyond the terms of his season long loan. Although a combination of cost and contractual issues could make that difficult unless promotion is secured, the prospect clearly appeals to a player who makes no attempt to disguise the fact he wants to take part in games, not watch them from the bench.

"Everyone is really humble here and the manage ris outstanding. His passion is phenomenal. 

"We have a platform where you have got to stay grounded and work really hard, which is fantastic. Money cannot buy those situations when you win and it is the best feeling in the world. 

"You come in at five o clock after winning on a Saturday and there is no better feeling. People don't see what you put into it in the week."