‘Biggest impact’ - The advantage Sheffield United could have in chase for Everton’s Mason Holgate

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Sheffield United have been linked with a move for Everton defender Mason Holgate and it’s easy to see why there would be interest.

It was reported this week that the Toffees were open to allowing Holgate to leave Goodison Park after a season in which he made just five starts and was seldom used at all under Sean Dyche, since the boss took over from Frank Lampard in January and helped keep them in the Premier League.

United are yet to make any kind of move for Holgate, whether that be on a permanent or loan deal, but should they up any early interest they might have in the 26-year-old it will likely be welcomed by the player himself, for one particular reason.

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The Doncaster-born central defender began his senior career at Barnsley and he has United boss Pau Heckingbottom down as one of the most influencial figures in his early career.

Heckingbottom’s own coaching life, following his retirement, bore fruit at Oakwell, looking after the youth squads before he eventually got the call to take over as manager. Even in those days, Heckingbottom was a hands-on coach, something that has continued through his successful managerial career.

And during the early stages of his time at Everton, who he joined for a fee of around £2m almost eight years ago, Holgate cited Heckingbottom as having the ‘biggest impact’ on him as a young player.

“I have worked with Hecky since Under-16s level,” Holgate had said. “It seemed that whenever I went up an age, he did as well. He was a coach in the first team when I was there and I would say he has had the biggest impact on my career. I still phone and speak to him now. He watches my games, still gives me advice and tells me what I should be doing.

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“When I was at Barnsley, Hecky and I used to do a lot of one-on-one work to improve my all-round game. We would watch clips together and stay behind to do extra work, all geared towards helping me get to the next level. I thank him for that, and Danny Wilson, who gave me my first-team debut.”

United are yet to make a signing ahead of their return to the Premier League, with a central defender known to be part of their recruitment plans alongside a left-sided wing-back and at least one midfielder.

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