May 21, 2024

The 27-year-old is on a season-long loan from Everton but has fallen behind Jan Bednarek and Taylor Harwood-Bellis in boss Russell Martin’s pecking order.

He told BBC Radio Solent: “I think I was written off after my first game here by the majority of people – I’m starting to prove them wrong.

“I believe in myself. Once I’m playing week-in, week-out I don’t think anyone has seen just how good I am.”

After joining on 25 August, Holgate made an ill-fated debut at centre-back in Southampton’s 5-0 defeat at Sunderland eight days later and admits he felt he was in ‘over his head’ as he struggled to adapt to Martin’s distinctive possession-based style.

He said; “It’s not been as smooth sailing as I would like it to be. I came in quite late and I didn’t have a pre-season really at Everton because I was sorting this (loan move) out and training with the kids.

“It’s a completely unique style of playing that, at the time, I didn’t understand. I remember thinking about 15 minutes in that I was over my head but it was too late, I was already on the pitch. I think it was 2-0 by the time I realised that.”

After being withdrawn just after the hour and spending the next two games on the bench, Holgate was recalled at right-back for the trip to Middlesbrough but was subbed at half-time in a 2-1 defeat.

The former England Under-21 international said: “It’s fitness too in this system. I was a yard or two away from where everyone else and I felt it. I could see things happening but I couldn’t quite get my body to where I wanted to be.

“The lads have had a good run and it’s been hard for me to get back in. I came on loan because I want to play week-in, week-out and it’s not quite been the case yet, but all I can do is keep pushing and when my opportunity comes try and take it.

“There’s a lot of expectation that comes with me coming (in from the Premier League). I might not get the grace of a game or two that other people might have got, because people expect me to come in and hit the ground running, but it’s not always like that.

“My last two games, Preston and West Brom, I felt very comfortable and I felt I played well. I can only keep putting my case forward to play. Jan and Taylor are doing well and all I can do is be ready when my chances come.

“There’s still a massive part of the season to go and I’m looking forward to it.”

Mason Holgate in action
Holgate joined Everton from Barnsley

Despite making more than 120 appearances for Everton since a £2m switch from Barnsley as an 18-year-old, Holgate feels he has been hampered by his versatility.

He said: “Over the years, having a utility tag – I can play centre back, right-back, holding midfield – has definitely worked against me.

“At Everton I’d get into a rhythm and then someone would get injured and I’d change position and might not have my best game and then you’re judged off that.

“I’ve always been very eager to get away from that and just nail down playing centre back. It’s a catch 22. I know it doesn’t help me but if the team require me to do something you’re not going to say no.

“I want to be seen as a centre-back. Hopefully that’s where I’ll get my chances and after Middlesbrough the manager said that’s where he’d try to use me from now on.”

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