Jason Cummings has contributed enough to the Hibs cause over recent years to ensure he leaves with everyone’s best wishes.
This is the opinion of Darren McGregor, Cummings’ teammate and friend, as the striker stands on the brink of a move to English Championship club Nottingham Forest.
It looks unlikely Cummings will perform in the new home and away shirts unveiled by Hibs yesterday as the Easter Road club prepare to begin their first season in the Scottish top flight since 2013-14.
McGregor believes a big-money move south of the Border is the least Cummings deserves after such a consistent run of scoring for Hibs. But the defender reckons manager Neil Lennon can’t lose. If Cummings does end up staying at the club then Hibs are left with probably the best goalscorer for his age in the country on their return to the Premiership.
“After being relegated with Hibs he has scored 20-plus goals every season,” said McGregor. “You could argue that if it wasn’t for his goals last season we might not have gone up. Hibs fans have a lot to thank him for. That happens in Scottish football. You have a young talented forward who is doing well. Inevitably even if he was at Celtic and doing well there would be clubs chasing him anyway. Most teams in Scotland are selling clubs dependent on price and who the club is he is going to.
“If he does go I wish him all the best,” he added. “He is going to play in a very tough league in the Championship. Fair play to him. He will be sorted our financially so there are lots of incentives in that regard. If he doesn’t go and he stays here then it is win win for us. We have a young prospect, potentially one of the best goalscorers for his age in the country, and we have him for another year.”
McGregor accepts that even the reputed seven-figure sum it is taking to prise the player from Hibs won’t guarantee being able to replace his goals. Although Cummings experienced spells out of the team last season, he still scored 23 times in Hibs’ title journey.
“You can take chances and invest money in big-name signings but it does not always lead to goals,” he said. “You could argue that Jason does not give you a lot when he is not scoring goals – he might be the first to admit that.
“But the fact of the matter is he scores goals consistently and it is difficult to find players who do that. He has proven that. If it does happen we will be financially rewarded and I am sure that will go into the chest to help us next season.”
One player Lennon will be relying on to contribute goals is Simon Murray, who has signed from Dundee United on freedom of contract. The striker scored 18 times in the Championship last season, when McGregor was able to take a close look at his qualities.
“I hadn’t really heard of him before the season before last but fair play to him,” said McGregor. “He has worked hard at his craft. He is energetic and willing to learn. He will come here and it’s a big park, so his energy will be burnt up very well and he will help the team. I am looking forward to playing with him and hopefully he can be a good addition.
“He is someone you hate to play against us and he has scored a lot of goals for Dundee United,” McGregor added. “He will have aspirations to come here to be the main man. He works very hard and he is very quick. He does not give you a second on the ball.
“Dundee United are a good club as well but this is another challenge for him. If he does step up to the mark and does well he will be rewarded. The incentive is there for him.”
McGregor was speaking at Easter Road as Hibs announced new sponsorship deals with MarathonBet, the club’s current sponsors, kit supplier Macron and Eden Mill, the St Andrews-based gin distiller.