Huddersfield Town v Southampton: Ben Jackson on inspiration from boyhood club Manchester City - and his dad

WHEN BOYHOOD Blue Ben Jackson watches Manchester City, the side he supports, it is as much for research as recreational purposes these days.

City’s footballing elan under Pep Guardiola has not only been a delight to watch, but revelatory. For Jackson, it has provided valuable insight into his current role playing for the blue and white of Huddersfield Town.

Few positions have seen as much change in modern-day football as full-back, with the demands being huge.

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During that time, inverted wrong-footed full-backs have become in vogue and Jackson was fortunate to watch one of the best in Joao Cancelo, who became synonymous with several ‘inverted full-back’ innovations in his time at the Etihad.

Still holding court on the blue side of Manchester is another inspiration in Kyle Walker. Jackson does not take a notebook and pen into City games, but he keeps things logged mentally.

Jackson told The Yorkshire Post: “I’m a Man City fan and I always watched Walker and Cancelo (now at Bayern Munich).

"Cancelo was playing as a right-back on the left and when I am playing on the right, I’ve looked at how he has managed to find himself in pockets of space while he is playing on the 'weaker side'.

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"Walker is strong defensively, uses his pace and gets his body in the right position, so it’s something I (also) watch and use for inspiration.

Ben Jackson, pictured in action for Huddersfield Town against Bristol City in March. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.Ben Jackson, pictured in action for Huddersfield Town against Bristol City in March. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Ben Jackson, pictured in action for Huddersfield Town against Bristol City in March. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

"You always look at little things and think ‘how can I try and implement that in my game.’

"Quite a lot of time, If the other team has the ball, I am thinking ‘where’s our left back and right back’ and what body shape are they in and what are they looking for.”

While that inquisitive observational side has helped in Jackson becoming technically proficient on both flanks of the pitches, dedication to his craft began early.

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It’s all thanks to his dad, who made sure that the left-sided player, who played as a winger as a youngster, practised with his weaker right foot. The benefits are now there to see.

Jackson, who has started Town’s last two games on the right-hand side of a back five, added: “Since I was a kid, It was more my dad really. He always forced me to use that weak foot, even as much as I didn’t want to.

"I am thankful to him now because if I didn’t have a (good) right foot, I wouldn’t be able to play on the opposite side or even my stronger side. You must have the confidence to come in and use it.

"In the off-season, I will do sessions where I will try and use my right foot only and really emphasise certain techniques that maybe I haven’t effected on my other side. That has helped me a lot.

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"When you are playing on your left, it’s typical for someone to expect you to go on your left foot. If I can have the option to come in on my right, it creates a problem for the defender."

Jackson showed his mettle last season during the club's 'Great Escape' and is no stranger to fights at both ends of the table, having previously helped Bolton to promotion during a loan spell in 2020-21.

He has sampled playing for hometown club Stockport during a temporary stint early in his career. Then brings its own pressures and he handled that.

He added: "That was a special time for me. I was only 17 or 18 and playing in front of up to eight thousand fans - five minutes from my house - was quite amazing. My family and friends never missed a game.

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"There’s a pressure that comes with it. If your friends are watching and you are having a horrible game, then I am getting in the ear next week. You are walking down the street thinking: ‘Do these lot think I am poor’ and ‘Did I have a bad game at the weekend?

"I was fortunate in the fact that we did quite well and there weren’t too many poor games. I look back at that time at Stockport fondly."

Huddersfield may be doing it tough at the minute, but 2023 has been rewarding for Jackson, who has become more of a regular at Town and also signed a new deal. He looks made of the right stuff.

The 22-year-old said: “I can look back at the year with confidence. I’ve been in and out of the team, but in the past, once I’ve been out, I’ve stayed out of the team and I looked to find that way back in.

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"Whereas in the last year or so, I’ve managed to work my way back in and get more games. I think there’s something I can look back on and be quite happy.

"That boost of coincidence knowing that the club has placed that bit more confidence in me has also helped me feel more relaxed and less stressed."