Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

17.20 7 Apr 2021


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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer kept everyone guessing over who will start in goal in their UEFA Europa League quarter-final on Thursday.

The Manchester United boss has kept David de Gea in reserve for the last three matches after granting him one month off for paternity leave, and has started Dean Henderson in the last seven in all competitions.

United are away to La Liga club Granada for the first leg of their quarter-final in Europe's second tier tournament and when asked which netminder he will opt to start with, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to reveal his choice but insists that he keeps both men informed of his plans.

"Every time I try to explain to players why they don’t play in this particular game and what they need to do and what my plans are for them, all those discussions remain private," said the Norwegian.

"David has been a top, top keeper and he still is. He’s working to be ready when he plays. If it’s Dean or David, I’m very comfortable with both of them to play and I’m very happy that none of them are happy not to play."

Henderson returned to Old Trafford at the start of last season after spending the previous term on loan at one of the Premier League's new arrivals, Sheffield United, and he made no secret of his desire to take de Gea's starting place between the sticks.

Solskjaer was rarely a regular starter during his Old Trafford playing career but sent a message out to both goalkeepers that nothing has changed since the time when Alex Ferguson ran the team.

De Gea Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (left) and goalkeeper David de Gea react after the final whistle during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

"When you're a part of Manchester United, there are always going to be players coming in that don’t just come to fill the bench. Everyone has ambition to take your shirt," added Solskjaer.

"I was there myself as a striker. We signed Ruud van Nistelrooy, Diego Forlan, Louis Saha, loads of top strikers, Dwight Yorke and Teddy Sheringham. The aim for me then is to prove to the manager that 'okay, I don’t mind you signing these, but I’m still important for you and I’m still going to give everything I can to play'.

"It’s the same – right-back, left-back, centre-forward, goalkeeper. David has had 10 fantastic years and he’s had challengers. Of course they want to play.

"Sergio Romero probably played less games than he deserved, Dean has come in and given it his all because everyone wants that place in the team. David does as well and it’s a healthy competition. The nature of football and there are more quality goalkeeper departments, they are a very tight-knit group.

"They work together in prep, they have different gym sessions, individual sessions, they stay together more. Naturally, they create a bond and the spirit in the goalkeeping department has been top. But it’s a healthy competition. Both of them are important, all of then want to play."

Meanwhile, Solskjaer confirmed that Marcus Rashford is fit enough to travel with the squad but he won't be fit enough to play a full 90 minutes.

The England international came off injured after a tackle in the 72nd minute of the Premier League win against Brighton at the weekend.

"Marcus is travelling and we've just got to make a decision tomorrow if he starts or is on the bench," said the United boss on Wednesday. "I don't think he'll be a 90-minute man, but we'll see where we are tomorrow."

The news was not as good on France forward Anthony Martial who looks set to miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury sustained on international duty.

"Anthony has started his recovery and if we see him before the end of the season I'll be very surprised," said Solskjaer.

"Of course, he's determined to come back as quick as he can because there are important games for us towards the end of the season and there's the Euros. He's disappointed he can't help us now, but of course he wants to work to get back as quickly as possible."


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David De Gea Dean Henderson Granada Manchester United Ole Gunnar Solskjaer UEFA Europa League

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