Dean Henderson missed out on an England call-up yesterday but there is no mistaking the Sheffield United goalkeeper is destined for international honours.
That is the view of Blades manager Chris Wilder and Bramall Lane team-mate John Egan, after Gareth Southgate opted against drafting in the 22-year-old for Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo next month.
The England boss has instead kept faith with Jordan Pickford and Tom Heaton, Burnley’s Nick Pope replacing Jack Butland, but Henderson – the Under-21 international is on loan at Bramall Lane from Manchester United – is highly rated by Southgate.
After helping United clinch automatic promotion from the Championship last season, the England boss has already seen Henderson in action twice in the Premier League this season – against Crystal Palace and Leicester City.
“We obviously rate Dean,” said Wilder. “We look at goalkeepers he is up against and of course I am going to say he is right up there.
It’s not a question of if but when he gets called up.Jon Egan
“Would I be surprised if he is included in the national side? No, I wouldn’t.
“In terms of Gareth being here, watching Crystal Palace and Saturday (against Leicester), I don’t think it’s solely a scouting mission to look at Dean, but he has come through the system.
“He has played well for us, not had an awful lot to do, which is a confidence booster for us as a team.
“If he does get into the England squad, it just won’t be on what he has produced this season, it will be what he did last year. He was an outstanding performer for us.”
After a relatively quiet start to life in the Premier League, Henderson could be set for a busier afternoon tomorrow with a visit to Chelsea, who include Mason Mount, set for his first England cap after being called up by Southgate yesterday.
But centre-half Egan, an international himself with the Republic of Ireland, is a big admirer of Henderson.
“Dean is a great keeper and fills you with confidence when you have him behind you,” he said.
“You know if they do break through, he has got a good chance of making top saves. Last year he picked up a lot of clean sheets, hope to get a few more this season, and that might give him the nod for England.
“When you look at England goalkeepers, Dean has got to be right up there.
“It’s not a question of if but when he gets called up. Now or in the future. I think he has a fantastic future ahead of him as a goalkeeper for England and for us.
“If he can keep his form, keep his head down and not get too carried away, he has everything it takes to be a top goalkeeper,” before mischievously adding: “I will keep looking after him, make sure he’s not got too many saves to make.”
Mount, Tyrone Mings, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and James Maddison are new faces in the England squad.
And Wilder knows his Blades team will have to be wary of Mount tomorrow, “the standout player in the Championship for me” after impressing on loan at Derby County last season.
He has taken that form into the Premier League, starting all three games under new Blues boss Frank Lampard.
“He (Mount) was the heartbeat of everything Derby did,” said Wilder. “His absence from the team through injury coincided with their worst part of the season. His introduction back into the team, at the back end of the season, coincided with their best part of the season.
“They finished really strong, got to the play-offs and the play-off final.”
Wilder was at Wembley in May to see Mount and Lampard lose in the Championship play-off final to an Aston Villa side which included another on-loan Chelsea player, in Tammy Abraham.
Both players were on the scoresheet for the Blues in last week’s 3-2 win at Norwich City.
Wilder said: “Two of their outstanding young players had experience of the Championship last year. In that play-off final game, one went up in Tammy Abraham – who was really good for Villa and had a fantastic season – and Mason Mount.
“From a team point of view the result was disappointing for Frank (Lampard) and Mason, but he had an outstanding season and was definitely the standout player in the Championship for me.”
United have made a solid start to life back in the top flight, collecting four points from their opening three games.
Yet after playing Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Leicester City, there is no doubt tomorrow’s trip to Chelsea is their biggest, most high-profile, challenge yet.
But Wilder stressed: “We have to back ourselves. If we do get a result, it won’t be the biggest result we have ever got – or the biggest shock in football. We have to believe in ourselves, but respect the opposition.
“Chelsea will be tough, but we want to be competitive. This is the reason we wanted promotion, for every game we’re playing.”