There’s an old saying in life and particularly in football about never going back, the game littered with love stories that have rolled over into a second chapter and many wishing they’d left at the end of the first.

They say that too about relationships, that there’s a reason it broke down and that the past should remain in the past.

One of Hull City’s great love stories in its recent history is that between club, supporters and player – the player in question being Tom Huddlestone.

Huddlestone is one of City’s most decorated performers having played a key role in the club’s rise from the Championship to the Premier League and then a European adventure.

Despite leaving the club four years ago to move to Derby County, Huddlestone has remained a hugely popular figure in these parts and fans have watched his development with keen interest.

After going through an extremely difficult period, supporters have been lifted by the title win and now seeing one of their heroes back on home turf has given them an even greater sense of positivity.

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When it emerged last week that the midfielder was training with Grant McCann’s squad, excitement ripped through supporters like wildfire and even before he’d pulled on the Black and Amber at Scunthorpe for the first time in four years, there were calls for his trial – or fitness exercise – to be made permanent.

Those calls were heard by all present at Glanford Park as the traveling supporters made their feelings known during the warm-up and then at regular intervals during a rather tepid first half, a typical friendly encounter.

That first half was lit up in parts due to Huddlestone’s appearance, one particular turn and pass early in the game left his opponent going down the blind alley, still mesmerised by the 34-year-old’s dropped shoulder and quick shift.

Huddlestone’s ability to find space, to pick a pass and have the awareness needed to play at the top level is still there, he's an asset and why would you not want him involved?

What he lacks in sharpness of body he makes up for in sharpness of mind, and in truth, the rusty edges that will naturally occur having not played for more than 550 days will come back in time, it will just take time and patience.

Pace was never the backbone of his game, but the ability to understand it, to read it has been and that remains.

Tom Huddlestone celebrates his goal in Hull City's 5-3 win over Sheffield United in the 2014 FA Cup semi-final
Tom Huddlestone celebrates his goal in Hull City's 5-3 win over Sheffield United in the 2014 FA Cup semi-final

After leaving Derby in June last year having been unable to renegotiate a contract, Huddlestone had expected to remain a Championship player.

Moves to League One and Two were rejected amid a desire to remain playing at the highest level possible, and despite a flirtation with the MLS across the Atlantic, he remained on these shores navigating his way through, like the rest of us, a global pandemic which has ripped through the football industry without mercy.

Whatever the reasons for Huddlestone ending up back at City are, it matters little because the two need each other at this juncture.

First and foremost, City need a calm, assured, experienced head in a squad is dreadfully light on experience when it comes to playing in the Championship.

Across City’s squad, there’s only 600 appearances in the second tier and 200 of those belong to Richie Smallwood.

There are experienced players in that group, there are players who showed their mental resilience and toughness last season when things got tough, but this will be different.

The Championship is a big, big step up from League One and to survive, or indeed flourish, you need a mix of everything and at the minute, City are light in one key area.

Tom Huddlestone is back at Hull City

When McCann’s men have a sticky patch – and they will – and lose a few games, the fans get edgy and the outside noise becomes louder, a player of Huddlestone’s experience and knowhow will be crucial for the likes of Jacob Greaves, Keane Lewis-Potter and so on, he's been there, done it and worn out the t-shirt.

Not just the younger members of McCann’s squad, but the older ones too.

Lewie Coyle, George Honeyman, Greg Docherty, Callum Elder, Josh Magennis – all these more experienced professionals can only learn good things from a player like Huddlestone, who has played almost 250 times in the Premier League.

Whether or not he would be a starter every week remains to be seen and may come down to his fitness and the form of others, more importantly than that, however, will be his influence in and around the training ground on a daily basis which would prove invaluable.

Some have raised concerns over the clash of styles between how he likes to operate and the fast-paced, high press tempo game demanded of his players by McCann, compared with Huddlestone’s more measured approach.

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The two can work together, with dynamic players in the mould of Docherty and Honeyman around him, there’s absolutely no reason why Huddlestone could not operate to great effect in front of City’s back four, patrolling and covering, almost in the quarter-back role.

Presenting a contract to the ex-City favourite is not as easy as it could be, however, given the squad restrictions imposed on McCann by the EFL, he must consider carefully each and every place he sacrifices, but if there is room within his budget and more problematically, his squad numbers, then there’s little, if any harm, a move like this could do.

Few players can command the level of respect that he does, and given City’s current need, a return to his old stomping ground is one which makes perfect sense, for all.

Already on a high from last season’s success, the return of a prodigal son may just be the icing on the cake.