Tom Heaton has a point to prove at Manchester United. At first glance, the returning goalkeeper was obliged to be the third choice. But he can have other ideas.

This preparation for the season offers the 35-year-old the ideal chance to impress. He will likely start as Dean Henderson recently returned from an injury and David de Gea is on a longer hiatus after Euro 2020.

And the new addition from United still has a lot in the tank.

The battle between Henderson and De Gea could come to a head this summer. Given Lee Grant’s presence at Old Trafford, it is unlikely Heaton would have been signed if last year’s first and second election stoppers remained.

Most likely, De Gea will leave (possibly on loan) and Henderson will cement his deserved place as undisputed number one. And Heaton could then be the reserve keeper behind the young Englishman.

(Photo by Matthew Peters / Manchester United via Getty Images)

There are many ifs, buts and maybes. But United suddenly has a lot of quality between the sticks

Heaton flew for former Aston Villa club before being injured. And it would be the first choice for many top teams.

The upcoming friendlies allow United’s new man to prove his worth. And he will certainly start more than once this summer as Henderson slowly has to be brought back.

With 65 clean sheets in 200 games for Burnley, there’s no doubt about the quality of Heaton. He may never have made a first-team breakthrough at United, but times have changed.

One point to prove

United have a few players for whom the pre-season will be enormous. Heaton is one of them, along with the likes of Alex Telles and James Garner.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has some decisions to make ahead of his first friendly this weekend.

The Red Devils may not face the same Hollywood adversaries they have most summers, but that’s not a bad thing.

United face English teams desperate to get their own summer off to the best possible start. That makes these games more challenging than the usual tour games.

United face Derby on Sunday and Heaton could start well. De Gea is absent and Henderson wants to be 100% before risking his hip injury.

That leaves United’s surprising signing in the summer a great opportunity to impress.

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