Peter Swan: Jack Hobbs' superb return for Hull City has highlighted his class
IT has been fantastic to see Jack Hobbs fit seamlessly back into the Hull City side in the victories over both Watford and Huddersfield – and the way he has done so is a credit to his dedication and professionalism.
Hobbs has returned from a career-threatening cruciate ligament injury looking in peak fitness – almost as if he has never been missing.
Now, I don’t know him personally, but I hear plenty about him from what other players and his managers have to say, and from that I can only assume he is the professional of the professionals.
He is the sort of player who is the first on the training ground, and the last to leave.
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Very few players have that sort of commitment, but it is only that desire and dedication which enabled him to come back from eight months out and play almost the full game at Watford, and then start against Huddersfield.
Hobbs’ return couldn’t have come at a better time for City either, as injuries and suspensions have started to bite, as they usually do at this time of the year.
The former Leicester City man may have been wondering how long he would have to wait on the sidelines for his chance, and now, like others have done before him, he has to take his chance.
He is likely to take his place in a three-man defence alongside James Chester and Abdoulaye Faye or Paul McShane tonight at Derby, and for me, there can be no better defensive line-up in the division.
The only concern, with Faye in there, could be a lack of overall pace, but they more than make up for that with their reading of the game.
Being able to read the game, and ensure you are in the right position 95 per cent of the time, is much more important than pace. It’s no good having pace and not understanding the game and positioning.
I’m sure Nigel Clough will be looking at the three-man defence and highlighting that lack of pace as an area for his team to target.
He will also be telling his players that they must try and get at City down the wide areas, to try and stretch the Tigers defence and pull them out of position.
The problem for them, though, and for many sides this season, is that if they commit forward without the quality needed to come away with goals, they will be overrun by City’s midfield, allowing Robbie Brady and Ahmed Elmohamady the space to punish them with crosses. City’s strength is built from the back.