Erik ten Hag reportedly had his first conversation with Dean Henderson in January, asking if he wanted to cut short his Nottingham Forest loan spell, after raising concerns about how often he was conceding.
Henderson has had most of the season so far to show what he can do at Forest. Indeed, the Manchester United loanee has been the first-choice goalkeeper since he stepped foot in the club.
However, that might have been different had Ten Hag got his way.
Manchester Evening News reports that the manager had his first conversation with the Englishman in January. Following Martin Dubravka being recalled to Newcastle United, Ten Hag was on the hunt for a back-up keeper.
He has a ready-made option already on the club’s books in Henderson. The only snag with that being that he is currently plying his trade at the City Ground.
As such, Ten Hag asked if Henderson wanted to cut his loan short and return to United. He raised concerns about the frequency of which Forest have been conceding.
Indeed, the United boss reportedly felt it was counter-productive for Henderson to be fishing the ball out of the net so often. As such, a recall would have solved both problems, in his eyes.
However, Henderson decided that he wanted to see out his loan. That’s no surprise, given the alternative to frequent minutes at Forest, conceding or not, would surely have been sitting on the bench at United.
Currently, it matters very little where Henderson is, as he’s sidelined with a thigh injury.
Following Henderson’s response to Ten Hag, United loaned in Jack Butland from Crystal Palace. Had Henderson decided to return to United, they could have been suffering with a problem now.
That would have put an end to their pursuit of another goalkeeper, with a quality No.2 returning. However, had he become injured, as he has done, United would have been left without a back-up to David De Gea.
That would have left them praying that nothing was to happen to the No.1, as it would have left Tom Heaton – who’s played just 112 minutes for the club – as the only remaining senior option.