Mason Holgate has hailed the impact of fellow defenders James Tarkowski and Conor Coady, while insisting he is up for the challenge of forcing his way back into manager Frank Lampard’s team.
Holgate featured in all four of Everton’s opening Premier League games of the season before suffering a knee injury in the 1-1 draw at Brentford in late August.
The 25-year-old resumed full training last week and hopes to be available for Saturday’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur – but recognises he has a sizeable task on his hands to regain a starting berth.
Summer signings Tarkowski and Coady have formed a formidable central defensive partnership in Holgate’s absence, after boss Lampard opted to switch his formation to a back four.
Despite Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United at Goodison Park, the Blues boast the joint-best defensive record in the top-flight having conceded nine goals from their opening nine matches, and Holgate has been pleased – but not surprised – with that solidity.
Speaking on Everton Live, the Club’s pre-match show ahead of every home game, he said: “I’m good. I trained yesterday, obviously it was a lighter session with it being the day before a game, so hopefully I’ll get another week of training in and I should be available to in the squad next week, hopefully.
“The timing of [the injury] wasn’t ideal but you could always say that whenever you get injured.
“It’s part of football, you just have to get on with it and hopefully I can come back stronger and better.
“The team is doing well, it’s been good watching the boys and seeing us pick up some results.
“Coads and Tarky have brought in a massive amount of experience and leadership into the team, I think it’s clear to see that.
“Playing with them, I know exactly how good they are and that we’re in safe hands. Hopefully I can come back in and help the team with my strengths but also support them because they’re doing well.
“It’s going to be tough to get back in [the team] but that’s part of the challenge for me.”
On Everton’s defensive record, Holgate added: “It’s a great statistic and it shows the work we’ve been doing.
“It’s not just us as a defence, the whole team is working towards pressing from the front and setting traps.
“It’s starting to show in the number of goals we’re not conceding, which is a positive for us.
“Even at the start of the season when results weren’t going our way, you look at the Chelsea game and the Forest game – and I think we were just missing a little bit of luck because the performances were there.
“Over the past few weeks, those results have been coming and it’s great for us, it’s great for confidence and it’s great for the feeling around the place.
“If you look at the team we’ve got, the squad we’ve got… We know how far we can go.
“We want to be consistently picking up points.”