Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick has been dealt a crushing blow for Saturday’s clash with Tottenham after David De Gea allegedly tested positive for Covid.
The Spaniard’s absence is set to land Dean Henderson with the starting berth at Old Trafford, in a game which could have a telling effect on the race for Champions League qualification.
United and Spurs both come into Saturday’s encounter with two drastically different points to prove.
Last time out, the Red Devils were trounced 4-1 by local rivals Manchester City after a dismal second-half display.
They will therefore look to bounce back against Spurs, who must show fans that their 5-0 demolition of Everton was not a one-off.
The Lilywhites’ form has been patchy since Antonio Conte took charge, and time is running out for them to find a streak of consistency if they are to mount a meaningful challenge for fourth place.
United are also losing ground and will be without first-choice stopper De Gea on Saturday afternoon, according to Manchester Evening News.
The 31-year-old has supposedly tested positive for Covid, forcing Rangnick to call upon Henderson on his 25th birthday.
The Englishman received an extended run in the side under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, but has since been usurped by the Spaniard.
It will be Henderson’s first Premier League start all season, with De Gea starting all 28 matches up to now.
Henderson is among a growing contingent at Old Trafford believed to be eyeing up a summer exit.
The stopper has been left frustrated over his lack of game time, made more important by the this year’s World Cup campaign.
He will therefore be under pressure to put on a strong display against Spurs, not just for the team’s fortunes or even to worm his way back into Rangnick’s plans, but to attract potential suitors too.
United’s interim boss delved into further injury and illness concerns when discussing the match on Friday.
“With regard to players, we will still miss out Luke Shaw,” he said, “He’s until yesterday still being tested positive with Covid.
“Scotty [McTominay] is a question mark, he had some problems with his calf so we have to wait and see until after training today.
“Right now, it is more likely that he will not be available because if we risk him tomorrow, he will more likely be out for the game on Tuesday, that’s why I tend, with muscular issues – even more so if it’s the calf muscle – I tend to be careful.”