Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has hailed the impact of under-fire goalkeeper David de Gea following a string of fine performances.
The young shot-stopper was heavily criticised earlier in the season after high-profile mistakes against Blackburn cost United precious points in their battle with cross city rivals Manchester City.
However, Rio praised De Gea's character and commitment to improving his game.
Speaking to MUTV Ferdinand said: "David de Gea's made some good strides in goal. He's learning, he wants to be a better keeper and wants to improve and that's vital in a young player's make-up."
The Spanish under-21 international has made a series of top saves in recent weeks, including a vital stop from a Mata free kick against Chelsea and an accomplished performance against Norwich.
The much criticised keeper had endured a tough start to his Old Trafford career after signing in the summer from Atletico Madrid for €20 million. However, De Gea continued his recent fine form against Tottenham on Sunday, receiving considerable praise for one sharp reflex stop from a deflected Jake Livermore shot in the second half.
Speaking after the Spurs game Ferdinand credited the United back line for providing the foundation for the win, saying: "You've got to make sure you defend well if you're going to come away with anything.
"Jonny [Evans] played really well again and I thought the whole team defended well to be honest."
United have 11 matches remaining this season and look well placed to mount a strong title charge, with the majority of their remaining games against sides mid table or below.
As such the April 30 showdown against Manchester City looks increasingly likely to determine which side of Manchester the trophy finally ends upon.