Why Jason Cummings was dropped for Hibs' win at Dunfermline
Not so long ago Neil Lennon was rejecting £1.7 million bids from Peterborough and taking the Scotland under-21 international to Euro 2016 so that the likes of Alan Shearer could convince him to stay put. Now Lennon is struggling to find reasons to start the striker.
Cummings began the season on fire. A double on the opening day against Falkirk was enough to seal victory and he went on to find the net six times in his next six matches. He has since failed to find the net in four appearances.
Whether in the midst of a barren spell or a fruitful one, one of Cummings’ flaws is his inability to form a strike partnership.
This was at its most evident last season when Anthony Stokes arrived on loan in the January transfer window. Stokes and Cummings not only made up one of the best strike duos in the Ladbrokes Championship - if not the best, on paper at least - all bottom six sides in the Premiership, as well as a few in the top six, would have seen the pairing as desireable.
Lennon started this season with designs of stationing Cummings alongside targetman Grant Holt in a classic big-man-little-man pairing. Before his goal from the penalty spot at East End Park, Holt had managed a solitary goal this season.
Not since the Dominique Malonga was exciting the Easter Road support with his awkward frame has Cummings formed an effective strike partnership.
Even when tried alongside Brian Graham or James Keatings, Cummings doesn’t link well and it has reached the stage - following some speculation over Cummings’ fitness and attitude - where Lennon has dropped him to the bench.
Despite going behind, Hibernian regained the lead through a Nat Wedderburn own goal, though it was Keatings who forced it, and a Holt penalty. Graham later came of the bench to add the third.
That means that not only did Hibernian win without Cummings, the three strikers were among the goals.
There have always been lingering questions about Cummings’ attitude, even when he is at the top of his game. This weekend’s victory for Hibs shows that Lennon not afraid to drop his talisman and is able to get goals without him.