Mason Holgate says he’s hoping to take another step forward in his progression and be playing week in, week out during the upcoming Premier League season.
The defender, 21, was a top performer for Everton at times during last term but found himself falling in the pecking towards the end of the campaign.
Now, under new boss Marco Silva, Holgate was handed a start, and even found himself on the scoresheet, in the goal-fest of a win over ATV Irdning.
Speaking to EvertonTV after the game, Holgate said: “Each year you need to keep pushing on and I’m at a point now where I want to be playing more often than not.
“So I think this year’s big for me because I need to go out and prove I can do that week in, week out.”
Despite the opposition, starting the game for Holgate alongside Michael Keane looks to be a big step as Silva named what was, at least on paper, his strongest side available.
However, with the Blues still looking for defensive reinforcements - mainly Barcelona’s Yerry Mina - Holgate will need to continue to impress the new boss in the upcoming games.
The 21-year-old recognises the chance he has during this pre-season to land himself on the team sheet for the opening fixture against Wolves and even become a mainstay for the season ahead.
That all starts with a good pre-season, one he says he’s feeling good about.
“Feeling good,” said Holgate on his own pre-season after finishing last season on the sidelines after undergoing an operation on an ankle injury.
“Obviously, it wasn’t how I wanted to finish last season but I’m feeling strong. I think the time off went well for me because it gave me more time to rest up.
“Now I’ve come back and I’m feeling strong.”
Senior defenders Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams may be begun to be phased out, with the latter possibly departing, as Silva looks to put an emphasis on younger players.
“It’s good because there’s a lot of young lads in our squad so it’s good for all of us,” answered Holgate when quizzed about the new manager's intentions of building a younger squad.
“It’s a positive for us.”
Learning from the new boss
With a new manager comes new demands and new tactics, with Silva’s ideas certainly a world away from that of Sam Allardyce and even Ronald Koeman.
What has come as a surprise to many fans is the repeated fact from players that the Portuguese boss has spent the first fortnight focused on defensive shape.
“I’ve learnt a lot (from the new boss),” said Holgate.
“Obviously whenever a new gaffer comes in, there’s always different things he wants but we’ve worked a lot on our shape in the last two weeks and that’s only going to help us as a team and as a defensive unit."
Asked about the team's progress in pre-season so far, the 21-year-old said: “Yeah, it’s been really good. I think all the boys have been enjoying it. It’s a lot of football based fitness so it’s getting us sharp.
"We’re feeling sharp and out there (against ATV Irdning) a lot of us looked sharp so for the first game of pre-season, we’re feeling fit.”