Gary Neville on Man Utd quandary over David de Gea and Dean Henderson: 'I'd urge caution'

Neville: "What I don't buy into is the idea that Dean Henderson can just go in that goalmouth at the Stretford End and adapt to the demands of being a Man Utd goalkeeper."

Dean Henderson was called up to the senior England squad for the first time last October 2:42
Gary Neville believes Dean Henderson would find it a big step up to replace David de Gea at Old Trafford and that De Gea should be given an opportunity to regain his form

Gary Neville has sounded caution over the prospect of Dean Henderson replacing David de Gea as Manchester United's No 1.

De Gea came in for fierce criticism from Roy Keane for his performance in the 1-1 draw at Tottenham on Friday, with the former Old Trafford captain saying he was "sick to death" of the "overrated Manchester United goalkeeper".

Henderson, meanwhile, has starred for a second successive season on loan at Sheffield United and has made no secret of his desire to be No 1 for parent club and country.

Solskajer declared De Gea still "the best goalkeeper in the world" after full-time at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and while Neville expects that sort of backing from his manager, he urged against any hasty decisions about replacing him with 23-year-old Henderson in the near future, insisting the Spaniard deserves a chance to rediscover "world-class" form.

David de Gea during Manchester United's draw at Tottenham
Image: David de Gea was criticised during Manchester United's draw at Tottenham

"Ederson and Alisson are better goalkeepers [than De Gea] and they have been for the last 18 months, two years - but I'd expect Ole to defend his player," Neville, speaking ahead of Manchester United's clash with Sheffield United, told Sky Sports.

"I think De Gea for three or four years was the best goalkeeper in the world - certainly the best in the Premier League. He won the player of the year here and in a very difficult period post-Sir Alex Ferguson, he was the shining light, but since that 2018 World Cup he's had a really difficult time.

"What I don't buy into is the idea that Dean Henderson can just go in that goalmouth area at the Stretford End and adapt to the demands of being a Man Utd goalkeeper. It takes a special character.

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"What I think De Gea has done over a four, five-year period before this last 18 months is build up a lot of credit where he deserves a break; where he's given an opportunity to correct his form. He's shown he can be world-class.

"When you go through a difficult period as a goalkeeper it's mentally tough; the scrutiny is on you constantly. There's no escape at this club and that's why I'd just be a little bit cautious over Dean Henderson. With respect to Sheffield United, it's very different making a mistake for Manchester United.

"It'd be a huge call to bring Henderson back to Old Trafford and make him No 1. You're dismissing everything De Gea has done. I'd just urge caution."

Redknapp, Souness disagree over Henderson

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 07: during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Norwich City at Bramall Lane on March 7, 2020 in Sheffield, United Kingdom. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
Image: Dean Henderson has kept a joint-high 11 clean sheets in the league

Jamie Redknapp, speaking in the Sky Sports studio, is convinced Henderson has what it takes to reach the top - but believes continuing his development at Bramall Lane could be the best option.

"Everything I see and hear, he's made for the top," Redknapp said. "It's only a matter of time but you have to get it right.

"I think Henderson developing at Sheff Utd right now is the best thing possible for him. He doesn't want to go to Man Utd as a No 2."

Graeme Souness, however, thinks Henderson returning to Old Trafford would benefit both goalkeepers.

He said: "Why put an age on it? If he's good enough, he's ready. I'd get him back; if he puts De Gea under pressure and you get the best out of both of them, you're doing your job. I think the clock's ticking on De Gea, I do.

"Henderson sees himself as being ready and I like that. You won't find out if he's ready until you bring him back."

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