Jacob Greaves interview: Hull City prospect a student of defending, just like his dad Mark Greaves

GIVEN that his father was a diligent and committed centre-half in his playing days, it should come as no surprise that Jacob Greaves is also a student of his craft.

The Hull City defender, 21, has also been fortunate enough to learn from some respected figures in the amber and black from his time at his hometown club, including a former England international in Michael Dawson.

The Tigers’ Championship campaign may have been patchy in some regards, but they have managed to keep out of relegation trouble in the second half of the season and will be grateful for that, if not by some disappointing recent results at the MKM Stadium.

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Speaking of the home front, the one thing that has been significant and perhaps one of the major redeeming features on their return to the second tier has been the form of two Hull lads in Keane Lewis-Potter and Greaves.

Jacob Greaves in action for Hull City earlier this season (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

The former is currently on international business with England under-21s – who played Albania on Tuesday night – while many observers believe it is a matter of time before Greaves, a consistent figure and ever-present for City this term, also gets a call-up if his progression continues.

On his own inspirations, Greaves – son of former City centre-back Mark – said: “I have seen a lot of players come through. I remember Hull played a back three in the Premier League and it was a different way of playing and they did not really join in going forward as they’d have been exposed.

“They had Dawse in the middle and while he was not really the most mobile – I think he’d say that himself – his reading of the game and qualities on the ball were second to none.

“He used to play in the middle of the back three and zing it out to the right and left and was phenomenal at that.

Jacob's father Mark Greaves playing for Hull City back in 2002 (Picture: Mike Cowling)

“He helped me settle into the club and it was such a good squad to come into.

“I also learned from Cliffy (Cliff Byrne, former assistant manager), who helped with the defensive side and it was learning yourself as well and picking up little things in your game, and if you have got any questions, you take it to the staff.

“But I feel the best way of improving is by watching football games and good centre halves.”

And on the influence of his ‘old man’, he added: “He is sound and goes to the games and doesn’t really say anything. If he sees something in a game, he is not afraid to tell me, but he encourages more now than where I was a few years ago.”

Oli McBurnie of Sheffield Utd is challenged by Jacob Greaves of Hull City during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. (Picture: Simon Bellis / Sportimage)

The art of defending is quite nuanced in modern football and has arguably moved on from when Greaves’ father was in the heart of the Hull backline in the mid-to-late nineties and early noughties.

Ball-playing centre-backs who can play out from the back are now firmly in vogue, with those virtues being lauded as much as traditional defensive qualities.

For Greaves, playing out from defence and striding forward with the ball has its place, certainly when you are playing a back three as Hull now do. But the key aspect of that is decision- making, namely when to do it and when not to.

When it comes to 2021-22, Greaves has certainly done a fair bit right as he did last term when Hull secured their first division title since 1965-66.

He added: “I cannot really compare the two (seasons) and if I was to say this season was better than last season, everyone would be looking at me thinking: ‘What, you are daft?

“Last season was definitely the proudest I have been, but this season, I have been proud of what me and the team have done. Hopefully, I can build on this season in playing every minute of every game in the Championship as I think it will only help me in the future in terms of what I go on and try to achieve.

“It has been an enjoyable season for me and something I have really been happy with.

“When I went into the back three, that is what I played in my first season at Cheltenham and I really enjoyed the ‘joining in’ aspect of it. It was different going from the ‘four’ to the ‘three’ at first. I was making too many runs joining in going forward and kind of exposing us. I have put the brake on a little bit and tried to pick moments of when to join in.”