Mason Holgate is relishing the battle for Everton’s right-back spot and insists the competition for places in Ronald Koeman’s team is a positive sign for the Club.
The England Under-21 defender is one of four men to have occupied the slot on the right of the Blues’ back four in the side’s past three games.
He played 70 minutes in Sunday’s Goodison Park friendly draw with Sevilla, before being replaced by Jonjoe Kenny.
Cuco Martina was deployed in the position for the Europa League first-leg meeting with MFK Ruzomberok, while for the return clash in Slovakia, Koeman opted to field a three-man defence, with Tom Davies assuming wing-back duties.
It all adds up to a welcome selection poser for manager Koeman ahead of the Premier League opening day visit of Stoke on Saturday.
“It is not only right-back, I think pretty much all over the starting XI we could play one or two people in every position,” Holgate told evertonfctv.
“It is positive that there is a lot of competition for places. I always hope to start and play but I am sure the coach will pick the team he thinks will get three points against Stoke.
“Whether I am in or not, I am sure whatever team starts will go out and do well.”
This coming Sunday will mark the second anniversary of Holgate’s arrival at Everton. The 20-year-old has made rapid strides since joining from Barnsley and broke into Koeman’s first-team squad last summer – before making a Premier League debut on the season’s first day against Tottenham.
This time round, the Yorkshireman’s preparations for the campaign have been slightly fractured, owing to his participation in the summer’s European Under-21 Championship.
England lost a semi-final penalty shootout against Germany in Poland, where goalkeeper Jordan Pickford took time out from the tournament to put the finishing touches to his move from Sunderland to Everton.
“He is settling in really well,” said Holgate of his new clubmate. “We signed him when we were out there, so I spoke to him a lot about it then.
“I think it has helped him that we have a lot of new signings, so it has not been so hard for him to fit in – there are a lot of other people settling in at the same time.
"This pre-season has been different for me because I went away in the summer, so I came back later than everyone else.
“I played 70 minutes against Sevilla and 45 before (against Genk on July 22). But I am feeling good and fit.
“I think everybody is fit and ready for the game on Saturday, which is what pre-season is all about. Everyone feels fit, strong and ready.”
Holgate featured in all three of England’s group games at the European competition – and played 106 minutes of the tense last-four encounter with the Germans.
And he says his month away with the Young Lions will stand him in good stead for the forthcoming season – and another tilt at the same tournament in 2019.
“It was a different experience,” said Holgate. “I have never really been a part of tournament football before – but it was really good, I enjoyed it.
“It was disappointing the way we went out, I felt we could have gone further. But I enjoyed playing every game and, for me, it was nothing but a positive.
“And I am still young enough to play in the next one, so I will try to use that experience in two years when we play in Russia.”
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