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Solskjaer backs De Gea in face of criticism following RB Leipzig blunder

The Spain goalkeeper has Dean Henderson breathing down his neck for a start for the Red Devils

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has offered his backing to David De Gea, saying the Spain international goalkeeper is a player Manchester United can rely on.

De Gea returned to the United side for the 3-2 loss to RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday, following a short spell out with a knee problem, and he did not cover himself in glory as the Red Devils crashed out of the competition.

He was partly to blame along with Harry Maguire for Justin Kluivert’s crucial third goal, which put Leipzig 3-0 up with 21 minutes left to play and United were unable to complete the comeback.

Former Manchester United man Paul Scholes was furious with De Gea for his part in the goal, as the 30-year-old turned his back on the Dutch forward as he went in to challenge Kluivert for the ball, and accused the Spaniard of not being committed.

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“He bottles it, doesn’t he?” Scholes told BT Sport. “Basically, he’s scared of getting himself hurt. It should never go across the box.

“Maguire looks wooden, stiff but De Gea as a goalkeeper has to come out and make himself as big as he can.

“Yes, you might get injured but he turns his back away. It’s criminal.”

De Gea has made a number of blunders in recent seasons, and is not the consistent, excellent force of previous years, but the former Atletico Madrid man still has the full backing of his manager.

“I think David is a top goalkeeper, of course I do,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference before the derby with Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday.

“Rightly so, he’s on the lists of being the best goalkeeper in Europe. For me, he’s handled criticism before, he’s handled setbacks before.

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“He’s a man that we really rely on, and hopefully he’s not affected by criticism, and I don’t think he will be.

“Every goal that a ‘keeper concedes you’d be disappointed with.”

It appears De Gea will be given the nod to start the Manchester derby, but he is no longer the guaranteed starter of recent years.

United brought Dean Henderson back to the club following his loan spell at Sheffield United, and the Englishman will be pushing for a chance to take on a regular playing role.

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