Rafa Benitez explains ‘issue’ Mason Holgate had before Everton red card

Rafa Benitez says Mason Holgate struggled with the “tempo” of the closing stages against Tottenham Hotspur as he explained why he brought the defender on in midfield.

Holgate, a centre-back by trade, replaced Allan after 82 minutes and was preferred ahead of midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin, who was also among the substitutes.

But Holgate, who has played in the position before for Everton, would not remain on the pitch to hear the final whistle after being shown a red card following a reckless challenge on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in time added on.

Benitez then took off Demarai Gray in order to introduce Gbamin for the final few minutes.

Holgate, 25, had moments earlier conceded possession inside Everton’s half which led to Spurs striking the post through Giovani Lo Celso.

And Benitez says the speed of the game was too much for Holgate in that midfield role.

“We have issues today with the midfielders because (Fabian) Delph has been great in the last game and this one.

“But he was 10 weeks without playing and has a yellow card so we have to make a substitution and Allan has had flu and he was running a lot so we had to make a substitution,” said the Everton boss.

“I thought, with Mason, he has played in this position in the past, he is good in the air and can pass the ball, but the tempo was very high so maybe that is why he was late to some of the balls.”

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