Tom Heaton was Manchester United’s first summer contract. And yet it still felt like a minor minor matter when it came to the supporters.

United had signed Heaton to replace Dean Henderson and David de Gea, who will both remain at the club.

Although the intent might have been to move Heaton from the third choice to the second choice if either of the two is eliminated, he currently remains number three.

And yet, strangely enough, Heaton has the chance to start the 2021/22 season as a starter for United.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk / Getty Images)

He is ready when needed

Heaton started all three Manchester United friendlies in the preseason.

While United conceded four goals at QPR, three of those goals came after his substitution. Likewise the goal conceded at the Derby, with Lee Grant conceding a total of four of the five goals conceded in the first two games.

Heaton couldn’t do much about the quality of Brentford’s goals at Old Trafford last Wednesday.

The advantage that Heaton has is that David de Gea and Dean Henderson may not be ready just yet.

Both players have now returned to training after a summer break, with De Gea at Euro 2020 with Spain, despite not having played.

Henderson is struggling with an injury and that will make United wary of bringing him back.

If United meet Everton in the final pre-season friendly next Saturday, it is likely that both Henderson and De Gea will get 45 minutes each.

If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is concerned, neither player will be physically or mentally ready to face Leeds next weekend, Heaton could be called in.

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

Another scenario could be that Henderson is not considered fully fit and Solskjaer does not want to play against De Gea as it will be harder for him to fall again if his long-term goal is to establish Henderson as a regular. It is still unclear in which direction Solskjaer will head for his number one goalkeeper in the coming season.

Heaton showed in July that he is not lazy and that even at 35 he is more than capable of playing at a high level, especially with a strong defense in front of him.

The smart money would be for De Gea or Henderson, who face Leeds at Old Trafford on August 14th. But it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if Tom Heaton got the call for both players because of the shortened summer.

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