It is fair to say Jason Cummings doesn’t do confidence crises. From the look on his face, the Hibernian forward is totally unperturbed about his recent goal drought. Thursday’s outing for Scotland Under-21s against France was his seventh successive game without scoring, yet he cracks jokes when asked if it affects him.
Prior to the current run, the 20-year-old hadn’t gone more than two matches without a goal this season. His club tally remains an impressive 20 goals in 36 games. Since his winner against Hearts in the Scottish Cup on 16 February, he hasn’t found the net. The most recent chapter in the story of paucity came at Raith Rovers last weekend. David Gray’s cross found Cummings three yards out in front of a gaping goal. However, the striker’s finish cannoned off the underside of the crossbar. Hibernian had just fallen 2-1 behind, a scoreline they would not overhaul. He isn’t keen to be reminded about the miss but nor is he fretting over it.
“I’ve had a bit of stick. I’ve forgotten about it now though, so cheers for bringing it up again,” he laughed. “It happens to everyone, especially strikers. I’m going to get chances because I put myself in those positions. I was there to miss it but I’ve moved on.
“It has made me a wee bit stronger. It happens to every top striker. To be fair the ground was a wee bit bobbly. I’m pointing the finger at the groundsman. I need to get that groundsman’s number. He’s stuck me under the bus a wee bit, that groundsman.”
Jokes aside, Cummings was hoping to atone on international duty in Angers in midweek but found himself up against an uncompromising French defence, marshalled by the Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte. Sebastien Haller’s double consigned the Scots to a 2-0 defeat in the European Under-21 Championship qualifier. Asked if the lack of goals is troubling him, Cummings replied: “Not at all. My confidence is always high and I’m just enjoying myself. I enjoyed it against France. I just worry about my performances so I’m still confident.
“It was very difficult. We knew before the game it was going to be a hard match for us. We knew they had some unbelievable players, Champions League players. I thought we did well, took a lot of positives from it, especially first half. I thought we were very decent. Their class showed in the end, though.
“You’ve just got to applaud them for the way they play. The style they play is unbelievable. I think a lot of boys will take that away with them and maybe try to play more like them. They were a joy to watch. I was just chasing shadows and couldn’t get near to any of them. Fair play to them. It’s so hard when you’re on the pitch and they’re just passing the ball around you.
“You can’t get near them. It was hard for me up front on my own trying to press them down when they’re just popping it. I thought the boys at the back did well, especially Jordan McGhee, who was different class. That was unbelievable and big Jack [Hamilton] in goal kept us in the game. They just peppered us for so long and it just wouldn’t come.”
Hamilton’s performance was a standout. The Hearts goalkeeper, by coach Ricky Sbragia’s admission, prevented a thrashing with a series of stunning saves. Cummings believes his potential to go higher is clear, although he is second choice to Neil Alexander at Tynecastle.
“The world is Jack’s oyster,” said Cummings. “Even in training he’s just got those safe hands. You know he’s going to be there for you and you have a lot of confidence in him that he’ll stop chances. He’ll definitely be a first-team starter very soon and he’ll kick on for good success.
“I’ve played against him a few times. He’s one of those keepers strikers just don’t like. He seems to have those go-go-gadget arms that just pull the ball out the stanchions. You think you’re going to score and he’ll just pull it out the top corner. He did that the other night for us and kept us in the game first half.
“We were just trying to stay in the game for as long as we could then try to nick it. But we just couldn’t take that much pressure and they got a couple of goals in the end.”