Holgate Sets New Season Goals

Mason Holgate wants to maintain his personal upwards curve with Everton this season – and the Englishman is welcoming additional competition for defensive spots from teenager Jarrad Branthwaite.

Centre-back Holgate feared his Everton career was stalling before a revitalising loan with West Bromwich Albion in the second half of 2018/19 prompted a reversal in fortunes back at Goodison Park.

The 23-year-old jumped firmly into contention for a starting position in the middle of Everton’s back four with a series of immaculate displays following his recall to the team early last season.

A shin injury forced him out of the closing five Premier League matches – save for an aborted attempt to play against Aston Villa – opening a window of opportunity for Branthwaite.

Holgate, whose development was rewarded with new five-year terms in March, reported back for pre-season fully fit and played 45 minutes of Everton's opening friendly, against Blackpool.

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The Blues host Preston North End on Saturday, with Carlo Ancelotti taking his team to Tottenham Hotspur eight days later for the start of the Italian manager's first full season in charge following his appointment back in December.

“I have to be pleased with last season and playing most of the games until I was injured,” said Holgate.

“That was positive but it is what I wanted to be doing.

“Now it is down to me to keep getting better and showing I can do that every season.


“I had a run of games before the manager came, so my confidence was high when he arrived.

“He has been good with me and I am trying to repay him.

“I got one foot in the door [when recalled last October] and manged to keep it going.

“But now I have to kick on and keep improving and the same applies to the team.

“We have to be challenging for Europe.

“That was our aim last season, and at one point we felt we had a chance, but we tailed off towards the end.

“We need to find a consistent level of performance.

“Some weeks we are really good, or we might win two or three games in a row, but then we don’t win for two or three.

“That is what we need to put right.”

Holgate is in his sixth year with Everton after joining from Barnsley as an 18-year-old in August 2015.

His first senior appearance came exactly one calendar year after his arrival when Holgate started a Premier League opener against Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park.

Everton will begin this term away at the same opponents, albeit behind closed doors with clubs still waiting for the nod to allow supporters back into stadiums.

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03:01 Mon 24 Aug 2020

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Holgate confesses performing in front of empty stands – Everton played their final nine games of 2019/20 with no spectators – is illustrating the influence of supporters on a game’s rhythm and tempo.

Branthwaite, meanwhile, is waiting to experience the feel of a full Premier League stadium.

But the 18-year-old stepped up fantastically when asked to plug the gap in Everton’s defence late last term.

Signed from League Two Carlisle United in January, he twice came on from the bench before starting Everton’s final two matches.

“Jarrad has done really well,” said Holgate, who partnered Branthwaite in the first half of last week's opening warm-up match at Blackpool.

“He came in last season and started training with us straight away, so we knew he was a good player.

“I had a similar path and sometimes it is difficult to get in and show what you can do.

“But he got his chance and was ready for it.

“He can’t rest on that and has to continue getting better.

“The kind of character he is… he will push the rest of the centre-backs to keep playing.

“I am happy about that – competition improves the team, so it is good.”

Holgate continued: “It is a difficult start at Tottenham... but with pre-season behind us everybody will be fit and ready to go.

“Why not take on a team like that first?

“It could be a good start for us.

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02:14 Mon 24 Aug 2020

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“It is strange without fans, home and away – although it is still more difficult away from home because of the travel.

“We are massively missing having the supporters at matches.

“You realise how much they bring to the game and how they affect the intensity of the game.

“The buzz they bring.

“We are all waiting for them to be back and hope it will be soon.

“We have spoken about last season and accepted it wasn’t what we wanted.

“Where we finished in the table (12th) wasn’t a reflection of the talent in our squad.

“We all believe that – but it is down to us to prove it.”

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