De Gea backs Sabitzer to step up in suspended Casemiro's absence
David de Gea accepts it will be "tough" playing the next three Premier League games without Casemiro but has backed new Manchester United team-mate Marcel Sabitzer to fill the void.
Casemiro will miss his side's home and away games with Leeds United over the next week, as well as the visit of Leicester City on February 19, after being sent off for grabbing Will Hughes around the neck in Saturday's 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.
The Brazil international has played in 30 of United's 31 matches since joining from Real Madrid in August – the most of any player – and has made a huge difference in central midfield for Erik ten Hag.
Casemiro's absence from the side coincides with Christian Eriksen's three-month injury lay-off, while Scott McTominay is also sidelined, but United moved to bring in Sabitzer on loan from Bayern Munich earlier this week.
The 28-year-old helped United see out victory against Palace when brought on in the final 10 minutes following Casemiro's red card, and De Gea saw enough to be convinced Sabitzer can provide adequate cover.
"It's going to be tough, for sure," De Gea said. "We already lost Christian, now Case, big players for us, but we have a bigger squad, players are ready to play, everyone is really focused.
"[Sabitzer] has shown already – he played 15 to 20 minutes [against Palace] and did really well. He made some good tackles and was good with the ball. Everyone is ready to play.
"He's an experienced guy who has played a lot of games in the Bundesliga. He's a nice guy, a very nice lad, which is good for the dressing room.
"I think he showed in 15 minutes, it's not easy to come in a game when we're one man less. He showed good spirit. I think he's going to help the team a lot."
Casemiro's straight red card was his first while playing for either Madrid or United in what was his 366th such game.
Eight of Palace's 10 shots against United came after the midfielder's 70th-minute dismissal, but Ten Hag's side held on to make it 13 home wins in a row in all competitions for the first time since a run of 20 between December 2010 and September 2011.
De Gea did not agree with referee Andre Marriner's decision to send off Casemiro, however, as he took to Twitter to post a GIF of former boss Jose Mourinho saying: "If I speak I am in big trouble."
Asked to elaborate on that social media post, De Gea said: "Like in the tweet, I prefer not to talk because if I do talk I'm in trouble. I don't want to say anything on that."