The international break is underway, putting the Premier League in rest mode. That gives us time to ponder rising players who have great potential to become top-class and provide a boost for managers in the fantasy world. Let’s highlight one player who has been thriving on the pitch, putting together an impressive performance to earn the spotlight he deserves, Sheffield United keeper Dean Henderson on loan from Manchester United.
WHAT IS DEAN HENDERSON’S BACKGROUND?
Born and raised in Whitehaven, England, Henderson played county cricket as a schoolboy. He was relatively good as batsman and wicketkeeper, but thankfully he chose football in the end. He initially played outfield before finalizing his role as a goalkeeper. And oh boy, this decision is definitely paying off!
Henderson began his professional career as a goalkeeper with Carlisle United in 2005 and joined the Manchester United academy at age 14 in 2011. After moving on from the academy, he did manage to play for the U-18 side for Manchester United during 2014-15 campaign where he began to earn regular minutes, making 25 appearances but suffering an injury right at the end of the season. He was even nominated for the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award but lost out to defender Axel Tuanzebe.
It has been a circuitous route for Henderson, going on loan to clubs such as Stockport in 2016, Grimsby (2016-17), Shrewsbury (2017-18) and of course, Sheffield United from 2018 to the present. Henderson was included in the PTA Team of the Year in 2017-18, while winning individual awards for Sheffield such as Young Player of the Year in 2018-19. Also, he helped win the U-20 World Cup for his national team with a young Fikayo Tomori, now at Chelsea. He signed a three-year contract with the Red Devils as his contract was expiring in 2020.
WHAT DID LAST SEASON LOOK LIKE?
Despite not being able to play for his dream club United where the established world-class David De Gea is the undisputed #1, the young goalkeeper has put in the hard work to grab the attention of his parent club’s scouts during his time with the Blades. It was his seven consecutive clean sheets in his last seven outings for Sheffield that spurred Chris Wilder’s side on to automatic promotion from the Championship up to the Premier League.
The Blades conceded the joint fewest goals in the Championship, letting 41 goals in 46 games, same as Middlesbrough, which is known for a more defensive style of football. The two were the only teams to let in fewer than 50 goals. The English goalkeeper won the Golden Glove, racking up the most clean sheets in the Championship.
WHAT HAS THIS SEASON SHOWN?
Teams that earn promotion often struggle following the step up in competition, but Chris Wilder’s squad has shown strong form in the Premiership. Sheffield United are not known as a side that sits back and parks the bus; instead, the Blades play the ball forward and rely heavily on their defensive backline and goalkeeper to control opposition counters.
The Blades’ defense has been the talk of the town this season. Perhaps most impressively, Sheffield United ties for the most clean sheets in the league with Leicester and Manchester City. It is no fluke, as the team has conceded just nine Premier League goals, second-fewest in the EPL, with Leicester the only club to have allowed fewer. But the defensive proficiency has not been limited to their side of the pitch. Center-backs Jack O’Connell and Chris Basham have often gone forward to overwhelm the opposition’s backline. This has helped Chris Wilder’s team to climb up to fifth position in the league table after the 1-1 draw at Tottenham.
This shows the confidence Sheffield United is able to showcase with a belief in their goalkeeper that allows them to play attacking football, including when facing the ‘Big Six’ clubs as well. The defenders have shown great understanding together, but they do call on Henderson to make some saves, as there are five teams that have conceded fewer shots. The stand-out statistic for Sheffield United is that they have the biggest difference of any team in the league between expected and actual goals conceded, and the reason behind that is Dean Henderson.
Every goalkeeper will make mistakes, each of which can linger in memory for a time. Minimizing and getting over those mistakes is the mark of a true talent. Several weeks ago, Henderson was touted as a flop-goalkeeper by the fans when he made a sloppy mistake in fumbling a tame shot from Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum. Henderson reacted to that howler by producing a top-class performance against Watford FC, making key saves including thwarting a one-on-one effort from Danny Welbeck in stoppage-time to secure his side a clean sheet. You can see the vital save and hear what Wilder thought of Henderson’s performance in the following video:
After the impressive showing, manager Gareth Southgate called Henderson up to the England squad for the Euro 2020 qualifier against against Montenegro and Kosovo. With Tom Heaton battling a calf problem, the 22-year-old also replaced the Aston Villa man in last month’s squad.
Of course, competition at the national level is tough with veterans Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope favored. But at such a young age, the future is bright for Henderson. United and England have kept close tabs on his progress, and the goalkeeper will only add more experience, putting minutes under his belt and challenging to be the Red Devils’ long-term replacement for David de Gea. Going from shining in the Championship to immedately thriving in the Premier League, one can predict a potential world-class player in the making.
And of course for all of the fantasy managers out there, you will want to consider Henderson since he offers plenty of FPL points at a reasonable cost. Currently the 4th-most productive keeper with 51 points, Henderson has outscored a bevy of higher-priced bigger names at the position such as Ederson, Rui Patricio, David De Gea, Martin Dubravka, Jordan Pickford, and Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The FPL world has been slow to react to his success, as Henderson currently lags at a selection level below 6%. The only caveat is that Henderson will be unavailable to face his Manchester United parent club twice this season (including the upcoming Game Week 13), but don’t let that stop you.
Is the young Sheffield United sensation in your fantasy plans? Is there another keeper you are sticking with or going for instead? Please answer the poll below, and share your thoughts in the comments section!
Will you be sure to have Dean Henderson in your fantasy team?
This poll is closed
Yes, will add him
Yes, already have him and will stick with him
No, he is not the best option