DEFENDER Mason Holgate is hopeful of forcing his way into the Saints starting lineup after a "disappointing" start to life at the club.

The 27 year old has only made five appearances since joining the club on a season-long loan from Premier League outfit Everton.

Holgate struggled in his first few games and made individual errors which saw him left out of the starting lineup for a spell of games.

He made his debut as Saints were thrashed 5-0 at Sunderland before being withdrawn at half time in his second appearance, a 2-1 defeat to Middlesborough.

Speaking exclusively with the Daily Echo, Holgate revealed it has been difficult to be out of the team because of the high standards he sets for himself.

“The Sunderland game is one that I look back on with disappointment,” he noted, speaking after his man of the match performance in Southampton’s 2-1 win over West Brom on Saturday.

“The same thing goes for the Middlesborough game. It’s difficult as a defender to come in and out of the team.

"All you can do is keep pushing the boys and make sure you are prepared for when that chance comes. 

“There are so many games in the Championship that everyone is going to get their chance to play.”

Holgate has had to watch on as Jan Bednarek and Taylor Harwood-Bellis have struck up a good relationship at the back.

He may look towards fellow defender James Bree as a source of inspiration after he earned his way into the starting lineup having been handed an opportunity when Ryan Manning was suspended. 

Even with his limited game time early in the season, the former England youth international still understands his wider role within the squad.

“It was disappointing," he continued. "I have such high expectations for myself. I didn’t have a full pre-season, which isn’t an excuse, but I was a yard or two off it.

Daily Echo:

"I am only going to get better from being around the boys and training every day. In each performance, I have got better.

“More so as a defender, you need a run of games to be judged off. It’s hard to come in and have the odd game.

"All I can do is keep pushing. Hopefully, when I get my chances I can stay in the team. That’s what the whole team need to do, not just myself. 

“The team only get better when players come in and make the manager ask questions. That’s what a good squad is about. That is what we need to be over the course of the season.”

In joining Saints on loan Holgate dropped down from the Premier League. The desire for more game time played a role in his decision-making, as did Russell Martin's style of play.

Having started his youth career further up the field, Holgate has admitted on several occasions that he enjoys playing with the ball at his feet.

"Speaking to the manager about football was such a breath of fresh air and it was something that I wanted to try. Hopefully, it’s only going to get better from here. 

“The way he speaks about football and his ideas about football is something that I am all in for.

“I know how big of a club Southampton is, I’ve played here many times in the Premier League. This is a Premier League club with a Premier League set-up.

"I have really enjoyed it so far, but I am a footballer. I’ve come here and I want to play games. All I can do is try and force myself into the team by playing well."