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De Gea tipped for long-term success

Spain Under-21 coach Julen Lopetegui is confident that David de Gea will emerge as a major international star for club and country.

The Manchester United goalkeeper, 21, has faced difficulties establishing himself at club level having to settle for a share of the No1 jersey with Anders Lindegaard since his £18.9million purchase from Atletico Madrid.

But Lopetegui backs him to make the breakthrough at Old Trafford and become the club's long-term successor to Edwin van der Sar, saying: "De Gea has played less in the Premier League this season, although he played the last game, and is now looking for regular games. I am sure he will make his mark for a long time in Manchester and on world football."

In an interview with UEFA.com, de Gea added that Spain U21 are looking to beat Denmark in Thursday night's first leg of their European Championships play-off to ensure smooth progress to next summer's finals tournament in Israel.

The youngster knows that the Danish side will pose a stiff test, but also believes that the defending U-21 champions were capable of seeing them off.

"Knowing that Denmark did not lose a single game to get here makes us realise what we are up against," De Gea said. "It is going to be difficult. We want to win at home. We want to go to Denmark with a result that will allow us to keep calm."

De Gea also played in Spain's 2-1 win against Croatia in the first leg of their 2010 U21 play-off, which was also played in Burgos, and then starred at La Rojita's subsequent tournament victory in Denmark the following summer. The former Atletico Madrid keeper said he was hopeful of a similar result this time around.

"I hope it will be a similar outcome to two years ago but we are not taking anything for granted," he said. "We know we must be at 100 per cent if we are to take a good result to Denmark for Tuesday's return leg."

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