Hull City: Jack Hobbs driven by sole Premier League start for Liverpool
OVER five years have passed since Jack Hobbs made the one and only Premier League start of his career.
Lining up in the heart of Liverpool's defence alongside Jamie Carragher, the rookie endured an unforgiving top-flight baptism when on the end of a 3-1 defeat at Reading in December 2007.
And that, sadly for Hobbs, was that.
An eventual move away from Anfield 18 months later left business unfinished and now, with 200 games in the bank, the 24-year-old is planning to graduate all over again.
IS YOUR CAR KEY BENT ? REMOTE FOB NOT WORKING ? LOST CAR KEYS ?...View details
FOR ALL YOUR CAR KEY NEEDS CALL US NOW ON
SNAPPED KEYS, LOST KEYS, KEYS LOCKED IN VEHICLES,
WE ALSO REPAIR 90% OF ALL REMOTES AND KEYS, NO FIX NO CHARGE.
Terms: FREE REMOTE KEY FOB BATTERY ONE PER CUSTOMER
SAVE £3.00 WITH THIS FREE BATTERY
Contact: 01482 423414
Contact: 01482 423414
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
As part of a Hull City side chasing a direct ticket for the Premier League under Steve Bruce, the influential defender can almost reach out and touch the land he left with regret.
"I played a few games in the Premier League and I would love to get back there," said Hobbs, as City head into the final quarter of the season at home to Birmingham City today.
"I am pretty sure everyone here wants to play their football there. To play against the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool would be amazing.
"Obviously, the club has had it before and everyone wants it back. This is a fantastic opportunity for us all."
Hobbs is unrecognisable to the player that cut his teeth aged 19 in 2007. Successful moves to Leicester and then on to the Tigers have seen him amass a double century of career appearances since he was last seen under the top-flight's glare. Not bad for a 24-year-old.
"I wouldn't say it came too soon, I was just pleased to play in the Premier League," he said.
"Now, six odd years down the line, I am a lot more experienced and have a lot of games under my belt. I have played 200-odd games since getting that opportunity so I feel like a total player.
"It would be great to get another 200-odd under my belt with most of them in the Premier League."
Hobbs is reluctant to stare too far down the tracks when envisaging the next destination for his career.
For three years on the trot he has spent the second half of seasons chasing glory at the summit of the Championship without reward.
The 2009-10 campaign brought the nearest miss when part of Nigel Pearson's Leicester City side beaten by Cardiff in the play-off semi-finals. Two further promotion tilts have followed with the Tigers, on loan in 2010-11 and as a regular throughout 2011-12, but ended with shortfalls long before the final weekend.
From a personal point of view, Hobbs recalls last March and shudders. As well as being the month when City's Championship promotion bid imploded in spectacular style, it ended with him condemned to the darkest period of his career.
Twelve months on, though, Hobbs is keeping one step ahead of the ghosts of 2011-12.
"The experience of last year means we are another season along. What happened before can only be used to our advantage, but that is the case with every year of your career," he said.
"I wouldn't say we bottled it last year. A few things went against us and we drifted away.
"Obviously, this time we are in a much stronger position – joint second in the league – and that should make for an exciting run-in.
"Promotion would be huge for us all. On a personal level, it would be a dream come true."
Adversity has seen to that. After suffering cruciate ligament damage in the Tigers' 2-0 defeat at home to Coventry City on March 31 last year, Hobbs spent eight months out before returning as a substitute in the 2-1 victory at Watford in December.
Eleven starts have followed to provide Hobbs with peace of mind and also awarded a new-found perspective as the stakes promise to rise during the final weeks of the campaign.
"It was tough to be out as long as I was," he said. "Being out injured is one of the most difficult things in football.
"I don't think you realise when playing and fit just how lucky you are to be able to go out and ping a ball about. You have to get through it by looking for the positives.
"But it is difficult, I won't lie about that. I was out for eight or nine months and that was bad enough. I dread to think what it must be like to suffer a career-ending injury. It must be so difficult to take.
"There are some bad moments along the way. My fiancee had a baby and that was a big help in taking my mind off it. Seeing him grow up a little bit has been brilliant.
"I won't say the run-in is easy compared to being out injured, but to come back and be involved in a potential Premier League promotion is fantastic. We are giving everything because of the huge prize there is at the end of it."
A sharp bump in the road came in the 4-1 loss at Bolton but, a week on, Hobbs is still unable to make head nor tail of it.
Three goals conceded inside the opening eight minutes and all realistic hope of retaining second spot had evaporated. He said: "I have never witnessed ten minutes of football like it. Bizarre, really."
The chance to make amends arrives along with Birmingham City this afternoon, and Hobbs sees enough belief intact to ensure the damage felt is minimal.
He added: "Doing well rubs off on everyone and I would like to think we have a good foundation here. Before last Saturday, we had been doing well and showing good resilience to see results through.
"There are a lot of positive signs and this is an exciting few months ahead.
"The key when you go into the last quarter of a season is belief and being mentally strong. Not bottling it, or becoming negative.
"Just do things right and be positive those are the keys."