Mason Holgate will go from “strength to strength” under Carlo Ancelotti – and the defender and Everton teammate Dominic Calvert-Lewin are in contention for England calls.
That is the view of Jamie Carragher, who confessed to being caught off guard by Holgate’s burst to prominence this term.
Carragher is a long-term admirer of Calvert-Lewin and insists the 22-year-old boasts all the attributes of a first-rate striker after adding a regular diet of goals to his “pace, strength and aerial ability”.
Defender Holgate, meanwhile, has started 20 of Everton’s past 21 matches – he was rested against Crystal Palace three weeks ago – primarily starring at centre-half.
The 23-year-old had a successful loan in the Championship with West Bromwich Albion last season and this term has reignited his Goodison Park career with a succession of stellar displays.
“Mason Holgate has made a great start under the new manager," Sky Sports pundit Carragher told evertontv.
“What has really impressed me is his passing from the back – and I think that is something Carlo Ancelotti will want his team to do.
“Looking at clips of Holgate when we analyse games and get ready for Monday Night Football, that is something which stands out.
“And it is something Carlo Ancelotti will know about as much as anyone, considering some of the defenders he’s had, real world-class players.
“I first thought he [Holgate] was a full-back and might not be tall enough to be a centre-back.
“People said the same about me, I played full-back a lot then went to centre-back.
“I did not think he’d be able to nail down that position and he has really surprised me since he’s gone in there.
“The thing for Mason Holgate now is to stay in that position and make sure he is playing week in, week out.
“He can improve everything – any player can – but it is a big thing for a player to have the belief and confidence he is going to play every week.
“Sometimes you want to know, if you make a mistake or have a bad game, you are going to be playing next week.
“Having that confidence from the manager brings out a lot more in players.
“The thing for him will be confidence, maturity and improving with experience.
“There is not one big thing he has to improve, he just needs the confidence of playing week in, week out. Having a manager like Ancelotti having belief in him.
“Then his game will go from strength to strength.”
Calvert-Lewin has scored 12 goals in 20 Premier League starts this term.
He is the division’s joint-top scorer since Boxing Day with seven strikes in Ancelotti’s nine league matches.
Everton’s Italian manager insisted Calvert-Lewin had “the possibility to be a great striker for England”.
And former Liverpool defender Carragher is equally taken with the quality of Everton’s centre-forward.
“I have always been a massive fan of Calvert-Lewin, always really liked him,” said Carragher.
“The thing that previously let him down, perhaps, was his goals – he ticks every other box, his aerial ability, his pace, his strength, making runs and making it really difficult for defenders to play against him.
“He is the type of lad you wouldn’t want to play against. If I was a centre-back, I’d be thinking…'This is going to be a tough 90 minutes'.
“Now he is adding the goals.
“Sometimes that comes with age and maturity.
“And the confidence that lad must have on the back of some of the things Carlo Ancelotti has said about him… that is the effect of a manager of that calibre coming in – what he can do for players just with his words.”
Calvert-Lewin and Holgate have both represented England at Under-20 and Under-21 level – Calvert-Lewin an Under-20 World Cup winner in 2017.
Manager Gareth Southgate names his next senior squad later this month when England will start preparations for this summer’s European Championship in earnest with friendly games against Italy and Denmark
Asked if Holgate and Calvert-Lewin will enter Southgate’s thinking, Carragher, who played 38 times for England, said: “Without a doubt, yes.
“It is difficult for English players to play in teams competing in the Champions League.
“Sometimes you look at who is playing regularly outside those teams.
"And the form Everton are in – if they can continue that until the end of the season [their players will be in contention for England recognition].
“You look at the striker situation with England. Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford are injured and Calvert-Lewin has more goals than any English striker since Ancelotti came.
“And I spoke about Holgate’s passing and distribution from the back.
“I think they both will be in Gareth Southgate’s thoughts.”