Manchester United 'not that far away' from rivalling the best – De Gea

The goalkeeper believes Louis van Gaal’s side have coped admirably with a crippling injury list and are getting closer to challenging the Premier League’s elite

David De Gea believes Manchester United are “not that far away” from challenging at the top of the Premier League again.

United picked up another three points on Saturday by defeating Crystal Palace 1-0 at Old Trafford, pushing Louis van Gaal’s side up to seventh in the table.

And De Gea, who has been in fine form this season, says the 13-time Premier League champions are nearing a return to the upper echelons of English football.

He told the club’s official website: “In terms of the league table and the position we’re in we are not far away. All we can do is work hard and try to keep improving and it’s important that we completely concentrate on ourselves and not look too much at others.”

Van Gaal has made a point of highlighting the injury problems his side has faced this season with a number of first-team stars sidelined – currently Marcos Rojo and Radamel Falcao among others – and De Gea agrees that it has led to a difficult transition period under the Dutchman.

He added: “We would never use excuses but it’s always going to be a big setback when we have injuries and some sendings-off as well.

“It makes everyone’s work that bit more difficult. In terms of maintaining a solid level of performance we need to have the consistency of players in the squad so hopefully everyone will be fit very soon. That will help us continue to improve.”

Yet rather than lament the injury crisis United have suffered, De Gea believes it has helped him improve as a goalkeeper.

“It obviously makes things very difficult but that’s football and it’s my job to be able to adapt to different situations,” he said.

“As a goalkeeper it’s important to form a good understanding with your back four and become familiar with each other’s positions on the pitch. It’s difficult when the players aren’t there but you have to adapt and concentrate on your job. The experience has definitely helped me improve.”

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