Jason Cummings backed to score on return to Hibs starting XI

Jason Cummings struck twice in the last league meeting with St Mirren
Jason Cummings struck twice in the last league meeting with St Mirren
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Keith Wright has backed Jason Cummings to respond positively to his recent barren patch by returning to Hibs’ starting line-up and scoring a goal against St Mirren on Saturday.

The 21-year-old striker remains his team’s top scorer with eight this season, but he hasn’t netted since the 2-1 defeat by Ayr United almost six weeks ago and has found himself in the unusual position of starting on the substitutes’ bench in two of his team’s last three matches.

After being left out of the Irn-Bru Cup defeat against St Mirren, Cummings returned to the starting line-up for the goalless draw at Raith Rovers but was then omitted from the starting line-up for the first time in a league match this season as Hibs triumphed 3-1 away to Dunfermline.

On both occasions that Cummings was on the bench, James Keatings replaced him in attack. However, with the latter having been sidelined for six weeks with a knee injury, Cummings is expected to return to the starting line-up for the visit of the Buddies as partner to Grant Holt or Brian Graham.

Former Hibs striker Wright admits he won’t be surprised if Cummings, who struck twice in the last league meeting with St Mirren, announces his return to the side by rediscovering his scoring touch.

“There’s quite a bit of competition up front, so with Keatings getting injured, Jason will be desperate to get back in and show the manager he’s the man for the job by scoring a few goals,” Wright told the Evening News. “If he’s back in on Saturday, even if he misses a couple of chances early doors, it’ll not stop him trying to get in the box and get more chances. I’ve got no doubt he’ll be back scoring soon and I won’t be surprised if he gets himself a couple of goals on Saturday.”

Wright, who will be at Easter Road on Saturday as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of Hibs’ Skol Cup triumph, doesn’t anticipate Cummings’ recent woes having any adverse effect on his confidence.

“The vibes you get from him, I think he’ll just brush this wee slump off,” he said. “He knows he’s a good player and he’s a confident boy, so he won’t be too upset about it.

“The thing I like about him is, even when he gets a bit of stick for the ones he misses, he doesn’t hide. He goes back in and looks for more chances. That’s why these guys become good goal-scorers, because they can shrug off and take the stick. I’m sure by the end of the season, he’ll be established as Hibs’ main striker again.”