Hibs boss Alan Stubbs today insisted teenage striker Jason Cummings wasn’t benched as punishment following an early-morning incident in a city McDonalds.
Cummings, scorer of 12 goals this season, was surprisingly named as a substitute for the 3-0 victory over Dumbarton with reports later emerging he’d been barred by the Gorgie Road fast food restaurant for throwing a muffin at staff – a charge he’s vehemently denied while a friend claimed the player was innocent and another youth was guilty of the action. Refuting suggestions his move was designed to punish the 19-year-old, Stubbs was adamant he’d simply exercised his right as manager in naming Dominique Malonga and Franck Dja Djedje as his strikeforce, a decision vindicated by the two French-born stars scoring against their Championship opponents as Cummings remained on the bench for the entire 90 minutes.
The head coach said: “If it was punishment he would not have been involved at all. The competition for places is healthy and it’s up to me to decide which strikers or striker we go with from game to game.”
And in refusing to discuss the incident any further, he added: “We keep all our business in-house. I am not going to give any credence to the story. Whenever anything happens we will look at it. We expect our players to behave the right way but we do not do our washing outdoors.
“I hope the story is dead in the water now.”
However, while stressing he was not referring to Cummings himself, Stubbs revealed what he does expect from his players. He said: “Everybody has a responsibility and you have to behave within that responsibility because you are in the spotlight all the time. There’s always someone that would look to make a story even if it’s not a story.
“They are in the public eye. It’s like, in a way, 24-hour CCTV. That’s the world we live in now so that even more so it becomes an extra responsibility. They get paid well, they have a responsibility to behave. You can’t have it both ways.”
Although declining to pass comment on this particular alleged incident, Stubbs added: “He is young, he is exuberant, a confident young boy. You treat everyone on their own merits, everyone is different. I have to say I was no angel but you learn and that’s all I want him to do. You don’t keep making mistakes, you learn.”
And that, Stubbs insisted, is exactly what Cummings, who was working as a gardener barely 18 months ago, is doing on the pitch. He said: “Jason is scoring goals and he bases a lot of his play on that. But I look at the bigger picture, his all-round play and the most important thing he needs is to keep progressing, to keep learning.
“When you step up to that next level in football you have to be more polished in all aspects of your game. Scoring goals is a commodity that every manager would love but when you step up it’s not just purely about scoring goals, it’s about link-up play, the runs you make, what you do for the team. The more you can be a more accomplished all-round striker the better and the higher you are going to go.”