Keeping Cummings will be key for Hibs - Keatings

Hibs striker James Keatings at the semi-final draw for the Scottish League Cup at Hampden  yesterday. Picture: SNS
Hibs striker James Keatings at the semi-final draw for the Scottish League Cup at Hampden yesterday. Picture: SNS
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James Keatings insists that retaining the services of Jason Cummings in January will be crucial to Hibernian’s chances of catching Rangers in the chase for the Championship.

Still basking in the glory of becoming the first player to score hat-tricks for both Edinburgh clubs since the legendary Allan Gordon after a treble in Saturday’s 4-1 win at Paisley, Keatings knows the value of his strike partner, above right.

Rotherham, bottom of the English Championship, have admitted an interest in Cummings, who has scored in each of his last seven Hibs matches.

However, Keatings hopes his Easter Road team-mate will not be swayed by a larger salary and remain part of what could be a sensational season for the Leith men who also have St Johnstone standing between them and a place in the League Cup final.

“If we can keep Jason, then he will keep improving and scoring goals for us,” said the former Hearts and Hamilton attacker.

“If a club comes in for Jason, then he would have to sit down, look at the bigger picture and make a decision. He is enjoying his football and you can tell that because he has a smile on his face at training and he is enjoying scoring goals. He is really enjoying his time at Hibs and I fully believe that he will be here at the end of the season. ”

Many wrote Hibs off when they trailed Rangers by 11 points, but Keatings never lost faith and, having slashed that gap to five with 12 wins and a draw, his confidence is even higher. It has also reinforced his belief that he made the right decision to turn down Premiership clubs and work for Alan Stubbs when he left Tynecastle last summer.

He said: “We are winning week in, week out and I believed we could catch Rangers even when they were eleven points in front of us. I fully believe 100 per cent now that we can do it.

“We have a good dressing room with a lot of characters and we all believe in each other and we are in this together. I had the opportunity to play in the Premiership as I had four or five teams wanting to sign me.

“I felt that I could learn a lot more by signing for Hibs and I don’t regret my decision to come here. The manager swayed it as he was magnificent with me at the start of the season and I had a good, long chat with him and I truly believed that this was the place for me to go. I believe I have been proved right.”