By Mike McGrath
David De Gea has been told he has to fight to prove he is Manchester United’s No.1 after his five-week stint out of the squad.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave Dean Henderson a streak of goalscoring games during De Gea’s paternity leave and the Spaniard’s return, with the United manager having to choose between the two for the Europa League quarter-final of tonight against Granada.
Solskjaer says he had to compete with new signings when he was a United player and it’s no different for De Gea despite being the highest paid goalkeeper in football after his contract deal last season.
“When you’re part of Man Utd there are always players who come in and they don’t just come there to fill the bench or the team, everyone has ambitions to take your jersey,” Solskjaer said.
“I was there myself, we signed Ruud (van Nistelrooy), Diego Forlan, Louis Saha, loads of great forwards like Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham, the goal for me then is to prove to the manager, ‘ okay i don’t mind signing these but i’m still important to you and i will always give all i can to play ”.
“It’s the same for the right-back, the left-back, the center-forward, the goalkeeper. David has had a fantastic 10 years at Man United and he’s had challengers who of course want to play. Sergio, he probably played fewer games than he deserves, Dean comes in and tries his best because everyone wants that place on the team.
“David is also doing well and it’s a healthy competition, the nature of football and the small goalkeeper department is a very tight-knit group. They work together in preparation, they have different gym sessions, they stay together more naturally, they bond and the spirit in the goalie department is top notch. But it’s healthy competition and everyone wants to play.
Marcus Rashford is set to play at Los Cármenes’ Nuevo Estadio despite being hit this weekend and missing England’s duty during the international break, but Solskjaer is unsure whether Rashford will play from the start or come off the bench. “I don’t think he’ll be a 90-minute man, so let’s see where he is,” Solskjaer said.
Eric Bailly must return a negative Covid-19 test before returning from Côte d’Ivoire where he was in international service and Anthony Martial could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered while playing for France.