There was a time, during the early throes of Carlo Ancelotti's Everton tenure when the equation was simple at the back.

It was Mason Holgate + someone else.

But after a couple of nightmarish performances at Goodison, many fans will be thinking Ancelotti now needs to work out the answer to 'anyone else + someone else'.

Holgate managed to make up for the mistakes he made against Spurs by producing a very good performance at Arsenal only to undo it all again with his errors against Aston Villa, eight days later.

Having spent the season in and out of his favoured position, these past three games have been a bumpy return.

After the Villa defeat last weekend, Ancelotti hinted both he and Ben Godfrey could be for the chop.

But a healthy dose of perspective is needed when looking at Holgate and we need to row back to when the Italian arrived.

For the first 15 Premier League games of Ancelotti's Everton reign, Holgate started at centre-back. Seven times alongside Yerry Mina and eight when partnering Michael Keane. Ancelotti liked what he saw. A new contract was handed out during this spell too.

But in that eighth game with Keane during that run, Holgate got injured early on against Spurs.

He returned to face Villa (alongside Keane) but lasted just 16 minutes before going off. He then got injured on the eve of the new season and would not be fit again until early November when he was thrust straight back into action against Manchester United.

Since then, Holgate has spent more time playing right-back in the Premier League than centre-back. He's started more league games at right-back than Seamus Coleman this season.

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You could say, the 24-year-old has been a hostage to circumstance, his form and that of others, as well as a victim of his own versatility, but ultimately, he is not playing regularly in his best, and long-term, position.

Consider this.

Mason Holgate has played 54 times in the Premier League at centre-back. That equates to less than a season-and-a-half of football in the position.

Throughout his senior career, to date, Holgate has played 67 times at centre-back in competitions ranging from League One to the Europa League.

By comparison, Keane has made 289 senior appearances at centre-back.

A lack of experience at centre-back in the Premier League can't make any excuse for the error he served up against Villa when his clear hesitancy in passing to Lucas Digne, when playing on the left hand side of defence, came back to haunt him as Ollie Watkins pounced on him.

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He held onto the ball for too long and he was too casual but those are issues that can be ironed out. It was a costly mistake, as were the ones against Spurs, but this idea that Holgate should be written off, dismissed or, even, sold, is going way too far.

It wasn't that long ago that he was being talked about as a future captain.

He may be dropped tomorrow, and Ancelotti would have good reason to do so, but in centre-back terms, Holgate is still a pup.

He's spent more time at right-back this season and while there is a belief that, in the long run, it will aid his development as a defender, there is no replacement for playing centre-back more regularly than he has been doing.

Ancelotti is the man tasked with deciding when and where he gets those chances and we, and Holgate, have to trust him to get it right.

He started 14 of the first 15 Premier League games under the Italian at Everton and there is no reason why he can't repeat that and more.