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Holgate opens up on why he’s been working hard to ‘nail down’ the defensive side of his game

Mason Holgate has discussed his progress at Everton and has explained why he’s ‘worked really hard’ at improving ‘the defensive side’ of his game.

Holgate has established himself as a key figure at Goodison Park this season after returning from a loan spell in the Championship with West Brom, with the 23-year-old flourishing amid regular minutes at Premier League level.

The defender’s improved performances have led to lavish praise from Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti, who believes the young centre-back has all the qualities to become one of the division’s best.

Holgate signed for the Toffees from Barnsley five years ago and his progress has not been straightforward since arriving on Merseyside, though the self-confessed ‘ball-playing centre-half’ has now revealed how his increased focus on the defensive side of his game has led to him becoming a regular fixture in the first-team set up.

“It never used to give me more satisfaction [accomplished defensive work] but since I started at Everton I have worked really hard on that side of my game,” Holgate told evertonfc.com.

“I always felt I had ability on the ball, it was the defensive side which I needed to improve. It is pleasing people are starting to notice that side of my game.

“I see myself as a ball-playing centre-half but with a lot of those types of players, it is easy to say, ‘He’s good on the ball but can’t defend’. That followed me around in my early years. It is something I’ve worked really hard on, so people couldn’t level that at me.

“The first job is defending and you have to nail down that part of your game before you can play. I still have loads to learn, you learn from everything that happens on the pitch, and I can improve every part of my game. But things are coming together and I have developed as a defender and added more consistency to my game.”

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