When it comes to a potential Player of the Year nominee for Everton this season, one name that will undoubtedly be in the hat is Mason Holgate.
The defender has fought his way into the starting XI and put in a string of impressive performances under both Duncan Ferguson as caretaker and since the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti.
As reported by the Daily Mirror recently, it could see Holgate receive an England call-up in March and The Telegraph is now suggesting the defender could be offered a new and improved contract because of his excellent displays.
But his emergence as an Everton star this season is something of a happy accident.
In the summer, following a successful loan spell at West Brom, it appeared Everton were ready to cash in on the young defender.
In August, The Sun reported that Holgate was a target for the Premier League trio of Bournemouth, Burnley and Sheffield United. The asking price was around £10 million for a player that appeared to have come up short in his bid to impress ex-boss, Marco Silva.
But his exit was dependent on Everton’s hunt for a new centre-back to replace the departing loanee Kurt Zouma. Everton failed to bring anyone in and Holgate swiftly became unexpendable as the Toffees were short of options.
With Michael Keane woefully out of form, Holgate was given his chance in the Everton back-line and has since cemented his place as a starter.
Had Everton secured another centre-back in the summer, who knows if Holgate would still be at Goodison Park?
But considering his current form, Everton must be glad they did keep the 23-year-old on Merseyside.