HIBERNIAN’S hosting of Livingston on Tuesday night could shape their entire Championship campaign. It will come only a matter of days after a draining international outing for Jason Cummings. Yet it cannot come soon enough for the striker.
The 20-year-old made it seven goals in seven games when he netted in Scotland Under-21s’ disappointing home draw with Ukraine on Friday night. His scoring streaks – the bang-in-form forward’s club record is eight goals in eight games – mean that, right now, any time he isn’t on the pitch he wants to be.
“It’s perfect for me with another game coming right up on Tuesday. I’d play a game every day if I could,” he said. “My confidence at the moment is sky high with this scoring run. With Hibs flying as well, the club is a good place to be. Everyone is enjoying themselves – I certainly am.”
There is so much to enjoy about Alan Stubbs’ side, not least that they have 12 wins and a draw from their past 13 encounters. If they make that sequence 13 wins from 14 in two days’ time, they will move to within a couple of points of the one-time runaway leaders, albeit Mark Warburton’s men will have a game in hand.
“It’s a massive game with the chance to get it to two points and put pressure on Rangers,” said Cummings.
The youngster is putting pressure on himself to score more than he did last season. His tally then was 21 goals from 42 appearances, an excellent return considering that much of the chat that surrounded the Leith club was that they lacked a natural finisher. Now Cummings, released by his boyhood club Hearts three years ago, is being spoken about as the latest in a long line of, somewhat, maverick strikers who Hibs have had a habit of seeing flourish in their ranks in recent times.
The club’s top scorer does seem like a worthy addition to a group that would have to feature the names of Leigh Griffiths, Steven Fletcher, Derek Riordan and Garry O’Connor. Judging by his response to being asked if he had watched, or even modelled himself, on Griffiths or Fletcher in terms of going on to represent his country at senior level, Hibs’ peroxide predator certainly seems to have immersed himself in the history of a club where there is a demand – and often a burden – to play with a certain attacking exuberance.
“I owe Hibs a lot, there’s been a few past Hibs strikers who’ve done well for Scotland. I hope I can do that as well,” he said. “I do watch them quite a lot on YouTube, the old Hibs team and players, but I’m mainly just concentrating on myself. At the end of the day I am probably different to everyone else. I am myself and I just want to enjoy my football and score goals.”
Cummings and his Easter Road team-mate John McGinn were the two uncapped players on show at St Mirren Park that the watching Scotland manager Gordon Strachan might have reason to call upon in future years. In all, the two Edinburgh clubs accounted for seven of the Scotland under-21s’ starting line-up – if you count Liam Henderson, at Hibs on a season-long loan from Celtic.
“That’s different class, good for the Edinburgh clubs,” Cummings said. “Normally you’d think it would be Celtic and Rangers doing that. I don’t know if dropping to the Championship has helped more players get their chance. Maybe, yes. I played a few games in the top league so I don’t think it made much of a difference to me personally. But with both of us in the Championship there wasn’t that luxury to buy and bring in players so they have to look at the youth. It’s helped.”