SAINTS manager Russell Martin admitted he cannot guarantee loanee Mason Holgate remains at the club with Everton reportedly looking to recall him. 

A report elsewhere emerged this week suggesting the Toffees want to recall Holgate from his season-long loan at Saints due to a lack of game time. 

Holgate has made only five appearances since signing for Saints towards the end of the summer window, winning man of the match on his last start.

That came against West Brom more than a month ago, with Martin not restoring the 27 year old to the team since. Holgate's minutes total to 289. 

Asked for his understanding of the situation, Martin could not rule out the possibility of Holgate leaving the club during the January transfer window. 

Speaking to the Daily Echo, Martin said: "There has been no conversation about that as far as I am aware. 

Daily Echo: Russell Martin conceded that Mason Holgate could depart in JanuaryRussell Martin conceded that Mason Holgate could depart in January (Image: PA)

"Mason came back into the team and did really well after a difficult start, he can't do anything else than play really well and be a good teammate.

"I took him out of the team because I felt Janny deserved his place back following suspension. The most frustrating thing is that he cannot control that.

"That was my decision and it was tough. I've left someone, who has been really great, out for the game tomorrow and the conversation is not easy."

"When you care about them it's a horrible conversation and it's why leadership can be very lonely, you feel the anger they feel towards you.

"Mason has been a victim of that and he hasn't done anything wrong, he's looked like the player I knew we were signing when he came back into the team."

Martin continued: "He is out of the team because the other guys have played well and that is frustrating for him. I can't sit here and say he is definitely staying.

Daily Echo: Mason Holgate was named man-of-the-match on his last appearanceMason Holgate was named man-of-the-match on his last appearance

"Would we want him to stay? Yes. He is a great teammate, he's got a great energy around the place and he's been good on the pitch the last few times. 

"However, I also understand that he probably wants to play more minutes and for Everton, it is probably frustrating as well.

"I am sure there will be conversations between Jason (Wilcox), Everton, and maybe Mason's agent at some point.

"Until it becomes something of real interest I don't think it will come to my door anyway, and if it does we will have to deal with it then."

Should Holgate depart the club early, Saints would be left with natural centre-halves Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens.

Summer signing Shea Charles can also deputise in central defence. Martin suggests Saints may not need to replace Holgate in the event of his exit. 

"I don't think we will be forced to do anything, we're in a good place in that position," the manager said. 

"We have got one of the best centre-backs I've worked with chomping at the bit and waiting to get back into the team, and he's our captain. 

"He's desperate to play and was so good for us before he got injured but has come back to real competition with those two and Mason as well.

"It's a great position to be in and I don't think we will be forced into anything. We're really clear on what we think the team needs.

"That hasn't changed over the last six weeks and we will continue to work as best we can on those positions. I'm not going to tell you what positions."