Dean Henderson has been warned that he faces a “nightmare scenario” at Manchester United, with Roy Keane seeing the exits at Old Trafford being blocked off for a goalkeeper who needs games.
United’s established number one suffered a knee problem at Southampton, allowing Henderson to step in between the sticks.
De Gea crashed into the frame of his goal as he tried in vain to keep out a free kick from Saints star James Ward-Prowse.
Henderson was summoned off the bench and kept the hosts out for the remainder of a thrilling contest that saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side hit back from two goals down to win 3-2.
That may allow Henderson to provide cover once again, but the England hopeful is very much a back-up option for Solskjaer this season.
Red Devils legend Keane believes a man who has previously starred across two loan spells at Sheffield United deserves better than a bit-part role in Manchester.
He cannot see another move being sanctioned, though, meaning that a promising shot-stopper who signed a new contract over the summer will be left stuck in De Gea’s shadow.
Keane told Sky Sports: “It’s a nightmare scenario for him. He wants to play for Man United, of course he does.
“Being in goal for Sheffield United and Man United every week is completely different, but he had to go back. Ole wanted to see him and work with him closely.
“You want to get better by playing the games, you can do all the training sessions you want, but if you’re not playing every week, the kid’s going to go backwards - and that’s going to cost him, ultimately.
“For example, if [Jordan] Pickford has a difficult spell - which he always seems to be, in my eyes - then it’s probably difficult for Gareth [Southgate] to go and pick a goalkeeper who’s not playing regularly.
“It’s a difficult situation for Henderson. Come January, do United really want to let him go out on loan?
“I don’t think so, because then they need cover for De Gea in case something happens to him.”
Henderson has remained part of England manager Southgate’s thoughts across recent squads, with a senior bow made against the Republic of Ireland, but more minutes are required at club level in order to compete with Everton shot-stopper Pickford for the number one job.