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Serial Manchester United loanee Dean Henderson wants a leading role for club and country

Playing for keeps: Henderson trains with England yesterday PICTURE: REX

DEAN HENDERSON will settle for nothing less than first-team football after returning to parent club Manchester United following a series of loan spells.

The goalkeeper, who spent the last two seasons at Sheffield United, will compete with long-established No.1 David de Gea for a starting place at Old Trafford.

Henderson, 23, spoke with confidence after joining up with the England squad for the Nations League fixtures in Iceland and Denmark, and it is clear he is not intending to play second-fiddle to the Spaniard.

‘David de Gea has been a great goalkeeper for so many years, he’s been phenomenal and that’s something I aspire to be, to have a career like [he has] at the club,’ Henderson said. ‘I’ll be going back in to get in that starting line-up. [To be United No.1] is something I’ve always wanted — I’m so close now, I’m not going to give up.

‘I’m going to put pressure on but I respect David and it’s down to me. I know what challenges will be ahead and I’m well up for it.’

De Gea struggled last term and made a handful of high-profile mistakes for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. Henderson, whose form for the Blades has brought international recognition, now believes he can take his spot and also press his claims to be England’s No.1.

‘The aim is for me to play football this season. Coming off a good season with momentum, it wouldn’t be clever for me to sit around and not play. I don’t think it would help any parties at all,’ he said.

‘You can get many things from training and working with other goalkeepers and goalkeeping coaches, but I don’t think there’s any substitute for game time. I’m under no illusions I’m [not] going to improve if I’m sat on the bench.’

As for the England jersey, Jordan Pickford’s position as Southgate’s go-to guy is under threat, with Burnley’s Nick Pope tipped by many to be given his chance this week.

Dier circumstances easing at last

ERIC DIER is delighted to be back in the England squad after a ‘very difficult time’ punctuated by injury, illness, spells out of the Tottenham side and a ban for climbing into the stands to confront an abusive fan. Ahead of the game in Iceland, Dier said: ‘It was a very difficult time for me. I actually felt very good going back for pre-season last season, but then I had a really unexpected surgery that made me miss preseason and kind of threw me off. I’m really, really happy to be back.’ When quizzed about the incident in the stands, Dier said: ‘People have asked me about the stand incident and there will be a time where I’ll talk about it — but it won’t be while I’m playing in England.’

They said it

‘I had my arm round my wife and my mum and dad said, “Oh, Amie is not pregnant again is she?”. That’s why they thought I called’ — Wolves centre-back Conor Coady revealed his parents thought his wife was expecting a baby when he told them he had some news — it was actually about his England call-up