FORMER Manchester United starmaker Ricky Sbragia believes Hibernian’s striker Jason Cummings can follow in the footsteps of one of his greatest protégés, Giuseppe Rossi.
Sbragia, in his role as reserve team manager at Old Trafford from 2002 to 2005, was hugely influential in the development of Rossi, who is now a seasoned Italian international playing in Serie A with Fiorentina.
The Scotland under-21 manager feels there are many similarities between Rossi and Cummings, who scored an outstanding goal in Sunday’s important win for Hibs over Rangers to take his tally for the season to 11.
Rossi had to leave Old Trafford as he could not get a look in ahead of a formidable attacking line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy, but became a star in La Liga with Villarreal, scoring 82 goals in 192 games.
That earned him a £7 million move to Fiorentina and he has also scored seven goals in 29 appearances for the Italian national team.
Sbragia, who will be looking to Cummings to get the goals in next week’s Euro qualifier against Ukraine, feels the 20-year-old also has the ability and mentality to go to the very top.
Sbragia said: “Rossi was a bit special and I think Jason is in that bracket. Rossi was a bit different because he didn’t play 16s or 17s. He went straight to open age because he had so much ability.We felt if we played him younger we would have held him back. He was ready for the open age.
“They are similar because they are two left-peggers and they are talented. Jason’s a good footballer and does his work in the box but Sunday was a wee bit special as he scored from 25 yards. We have said to him about shooting from distance and having that link-up play outside the box, and Hibs are probably saying the same to him because his movement’s good.
“There is definitely a maturity about Jason as I have seen him develop from the 19s to the 21s. He’s a different person and that’s showing in games as well.
“I speak to Alan Stubbs and Andy Holden at Hibs and I keep getting texts about how well he and John McGinn were doing.”
McGinn is the leader of Sbragia’s under-21s side and he is so pleased that the midfielder, who was man of the match in the 2-1 win over Rangers, has developed so well this season.
He said: “Over the three group games so far, John has been terrific both on and off the field.
“It is great to see John and Jason playing every week because you only develop by playing football.
“They are proving what good players they are and that’s credit to Hibs because they have an abundance of young players playing at first-team level.”