Jason Cummings can flourish at Rangers but ‘must learn game’

Rangers striker Jason Cummings looks dejected after being an unused substitute in his side's 4-0 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Celtic at Hampden. Picture: SNS
Rangers striker Jason Cummings looks dejected after being an unused substitute in his side's 4-0 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Celtic at Hampden. Picture: SNS
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It isn’t only Kenny Miller that is likely to have an unsatisfactory end to his Rangers career this season. The loan period of 
Jason Cummings at Ibrox hasn’t exactly brought the returns expected when he was recruited from Nottingham Forest in January.

Cummings was prised from Hibernian for a fee in the region of £1 million last summer because the English Championship club’s then management team of Mark Warburton and David Weir had become all too well versed in the striker’s goalscoring prowess when they were in charge at Ibrox. Cummings became a Rangers nemesis by netting eight goals in 11 games against them, while scoring 71 times in his 150 appearances for the Easter Road club.

Weir believes that Cummings could deliver goals at such a ratio in Scotland’s top flight but that the 22-year-old requires to fit better into the Rangers system to do so. He has only one – his solitary goal at this level – but then has started a mere two Premiership games for Rangers, with eight other league appearances from the bench. He did net a hat-trick against Falkirk in the Scottish Cup, and that form mirrors his experience down south across the first half of the campaign.

The ebullient performer only netted four times in 13 starts and seven substitute appearances for Forest – three of these in the League Cup – before the club dispensed with their management team. However, former Rangers captain Weir maintains his faith in Cummings’ abilities were only strengthened by working with him.

“We took him to Forest and we liked him at Rangers for obvious reasons because he is a goalscorer,” said Weir. “Working day in day out with him at Forest, being honest, he is better technically than I thought he was. He is a very good footballer, he can finish there is no doubt about that and he is a good professional, and sometimes that isn’t the message you get. He is a bit of a joker and there is everything that comes with that but he is also very professional and well liked among the group. But the overriding thing is that he works hard, is a very good footballer and he can score goals.

“Those attributes can take you a long way. Jason playing in a good Rangers team and creating chances could score a lot of goals there is no doubt about that. The team is not going to change for him and he has to adapt to the team. He has to find solutions in terms of the personnel that are available to Rangers to get the best out of them and him. He is a young man and needs to learn the game and how to do that. This is the learning bit. He would like to play more and to learn quicker but time will tell if he is going to be around at Rangers long enough to do it.”

Weir and Warburton weren’t around long enough at Forest to develop Cummings as they intended. “It takes you time,” said Weir. “We bought Jason as a longer term project and with hindsight it is not always the right thing to do. We had Daryl Murphy, Ben Brereton and Tyler Walker in the team and he needed to wait for an opportunity. Jason scored goals for us and did well. He also trained really well and we liked him. He was developing and our idea was to get him some games in the second part of the season, getting the right loan for him or getting him in the team more. Undoubtedly, long-term Jason is going to be a very good footballer and he is going to score goals at a really good level.”

That level could have a significant Scotland dimension. “Definitely because he is a goalscorer,” Weir said. “Goals change games and it is the most important aspect of football. You can be as clever tactically as you want and have the best plans in the world but if you can score a goal it changes everything.”