"With the maturity we're seeing in David now, the physical part of the game doesn't bother him in the same way it did. He’s handling it."

- Sir Alex Ferguson

21/04/2013 09:07, Report by A Bostock, A Marshall
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De Gea definitely no.1

David De Gea is set to make his 18th consecutive start for United on Monday with his boss declaring him the club's undisputed first-choice goalkeeper.

The Spaniard is three games away from his longest unbroken run between the posts, having been top of the Reds' teamsheet for every competitive fixture since mid-January's FA Cup replay win over West Ham, when Anders Lindegaard returned to the line-up for one night only. And De Gea hasn't missed a league game since 1 December when his Danish colleague played in the dramatic 4-3 victory at Reading.

When asked if De Gea is now confirmed as his first-choice goalkeeper, Sir Alex replied: "Yeah, definitely. And I thank Steeley (Eric Steele) for that as he’s the one who works with David every day. I’ve had a couple of chats with him but nothing serious.

"Steeley kept reminding David he would be top. The improvement is the physical part as he’s put on nearly a stone now in terms of muscle. He’s much stronger and dealing with the physical part [of the game] much, much better.

"As I said a few weeks ago, he’s developed into a really top keeper. He’s quick, he's got good composure and his use of the ball is good. He’s got no problems now."

De Gea has proved his strength, not to mention his powers of recovery, in at least two recent away games. At Sunderland, for example, he bravely played on after accidentally clashing heads with his own captain Nemanja Vidic. Against West Ham, the keeper was controversially clattered by Andy Carroll in what Sir Alex referred to as a football "war zone."

"He took a real buffeting at West Ham and it didn’t affect him at all," said Sir Alex. "He was composed in everything he did and had no chances [of saving] the goals. Actually, he was very unlucky with the second goal – Kevin Nolan did a fantastic job of shielding the defender out of the road and if you see the video from behind the net, David had no chance."

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