Gary Neville has told Dean Henderson he has it all to prove in his bid to usurp David de Gea as Manchester United’s No.1.
The England hopeful has starred during a loan spell at Sheffield United, impressing during his two years at Bramall Lane.
Now, armed with a new long-term contract, the 23-year-old has set his sights on ousting De Gea at Old Trafford.
Henderson, currently with the senior England squad ahead of their Nations League matches, has made clear his determination to be first-choice.
And he has told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that he has little interest in playing second fiddle, and sitting on the substitutes bench during 2020-21.
“The aim is for me to play football next season and I don’t want to be not playing after last season,” Henderson said on Wednesday.
“Coming off a good season with momentum, it wouldn’t be clever for me to sit around and not play football.
“I don’t think that would help any parties at all.”
Speaking on Sky Sports on Thursday, United legend Neville has made clear however that starring on loan doesn’t necessarily mean Henderson is ready to take De Gea’s place.
And he fully expects the Spaniard to start the season between the sticks for the Red Devils.
“De Gea definitely starts as No.1 because there was a point where Ole could’ve dropped him towards the end of the season,” said Neville.
“However, he stuck with him at that point and we are only around four weeks later.
“I still think Henderson’s got a lot to prove.
“Playing in goal for Sheffield United is a lot different than standing out there in that vacuous, empty, massive space which is the goal mouth at Old Trafford, when the team are up at the other end of the pitch most of the time attacking and then all of sudden you’ve got your first interaction with the game after 15 minutes and your concentration is tested like never before.
“I think it’s a very different expectation.
“It’s not a given that he’s going to go into the team at Manchester United and be everything that everyone thinks he’s going to be.
“He hasn’t got the experience yet to handle Old Trafford or to show us that he can handle Old Trafford.
“We hope he can show the potential he’s got but that’s the hardest position on a football field by a long way.
“It’s the biggest pressure on a football field and I think the Manchester United goalkeeping position, I would argue, is one of the most pressurised positions in English football.”
Henderson is looking to force Solskjaer’s hand in the coming weeks, before the October 5 transfer deadline.
He will either need minutes at United, or will look to head out on loan once more.
He added: “I went out from Man United five years ago. I started at Stockport, Grimsby, Shrewsbury and then Sheffield, which shows how much I’ve learned out on my own.
“I’ve picked up experiences that happen in games because they’re situations you don’t really get in training.
“I’m under no illusions that I’m not going to improve just sat on the bench. I need that game time.”
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