Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has insisted he has never contemplated dropping goalkeeper David de Gea, despite the Spaniard's indifferent run of form in recent months.
De Gea endured a tricky spell which saw him make a number of high-profile errors, including against both Everton and Tottenham, and there were calls from some fans to bench him immediately and replace him with Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson for next season.
Solskjaer has already backed De Gea publicly and took the chance to do so again in the build-up to his side's meeting with Southampton, praising the goalkeeper for his confidence and maturity to respond to mistakes.
"David has a strong mentality and he has been here for so long that he is coming up to 400 games, and you don’t do that by being afraid of the limelight or being afraid of Old Trafford. You do that by walking out on to that pitch and showing them your quality and mentality and he is a strong character and I didn’t see any good in taking him out at all, no.”
The Southampton game will be De Gea's 400th as a United goalkeeper - a number bettered only by the legendary Alex Stepney's tally of 539 earned between 1966 and 1978.
Solskjaer backed De Gea to eclipse that total, admitting that the Spaniard wants to play ten more years and has his sights set on lifting more silverware with United.
“He has been fantastic, David, and, since I have been here, I have enjoyed working with him," the boss continued.
"He has come out and said that he wants to play many many more maybe ten more years, how long will he be able to stay at the top is just up to him because it’s a pleasure to watch him being humble enough to work hard with Richard and Craig and the other goalkeepers around the place.
"He’s won the Premier League, he’s won the FA Cup, the Europa League, the League Cup, but that is probably not enough for him. I don’t think he will be happy until he wins the bigger trophies, and staying at Man Utd in this time and they are not having one more I think that’s something that he will feel is a black dot in his career.
“He’s won his personal awards but I don’t think David is that type who cares about personal awards, I think he wants the team to lift big as well.”