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job on hands Solskjaer warns De Gea of his battle ahead to be Man United's No 1 goalkeeper


Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. Photo: Reuters

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. Photo: Reuters

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. Photo: Reuters

David de Gea has been told he must fight to prove he is Manchester United’s No 1 after his five-week spell out of the team.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given Dean Henderson a run of games in goal during De Gea’s paternity leave and when the Spaniard returned, with the United manager set to choose between the two for tonight’s Europa League quarter-final against Granada.

Solskjaer says he had to compete with new signings when he was a player at United and it is no different for De Gea (right), despite his status as the highest-paid goalkeeper in football.

“When you’re a part of Man United there’s always players who come in and they don’t just come there to fill the bench or squad – everyone has ambition to take your shirt,” Solskjaer said. “I was there myself when we signed Ruud (van Nistelrooy), Diego Forlan, Louis Saha, loads of top strikers like Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham, the aim for me then is to prove to the manager, ‘OK, I don’t mind you signing these, but I’m still important to you and I’m still going to give everything I can to play’.

“It’s the same at right-back, left-back, centre-forward, goalkeeper. David has had 10 fantastic years at Man United and he’s had challengers who, of course, want to play. Sergio (Romero), he probably played less games than he deserves, Dean comes in and gives it his all and best because everyone wants that place.

“David does as well and it’s a healthy competition, the nature of football, and the small goalkeeping department are a very tight-knit group. They work together in prep, they have different gym sessions, they stay together more, so naturally they create a bond and the spirit in the goalkeeper department is top. But it’s healthy competition and all of them want to play.”

Marcus Rashford is set to feature despite taking a knock at the weekend and missing England duty during the international break. Eric Bailly must give a negative Covid-19 test before returning from Ivory Coast, where he was on international duty, and Anthony Martial could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered when he played for France.

Solskjaer says he will not take a risk with Rashford’s fitness.

“Marcus joined in training this morning, so let’s see how he reacts, if there’s any risk of making it worse I’m not going to overplay him. His back has recovered and he’s a tough one . It’s also a responsibility for the player to tell us, as he did on Sunday, he said it was too sore and he had to come off.”

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