Darren Bent insists that losing Mason Holgate for up to three months is a “massive” blow for Everton.

The former Aston Villa and England striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, admits that he was very impressed with the versatile defender last season and that he will be sorely missed by the Toffees.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that the 23-year-old would be sidelined for two to three months after he picked up an injury in pre-season.

Holgate featured 32 times for the Toffees last season and played in every league game between mid-October and the start of July before his campaign was ended by another injury.

Bent admits that the former Barnsley man stepped up his game upon Ancelotti’s arrival and that his absence will be felt by the rest of the squad.

Bent told Football Insider: “It’s massive, absolutely massive. Mason Holgate was superb, people had criticised him, saying where does he play, he’s not improving.

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“To be fair last season, when Ancelotti came in last season he stepped right up to the plate, him and Michael Keane developed a really good partnership, they played really, really well together.

“He’ll be a big, big blow. Testament to him, he was being linked to some of the biggest clubs in England so it’s a big blow for Everton.” 

Holgate has a total of 80 appearances under his belt for Everton to date, having featured at both centre-back and right-back during his time at Goodison Park.

Ancelotti has the likes of Yerry Mina, Michael Keane and Jarrad Branthwaite to call on at the heart of the defence, although the latter is also sidelined for a matter of weeks.

In other Everton news, the Toffees have been dealt a twist in their bid to sign a new centre-back.