Hibs boss Neil Lennon has warned Jason Cummings he faces a fight to regain his place in the team after leaving his top scorer sitting on the bench for the second week in succession.
Lennon admitted he had toyed with giving the 21-year-old a return against St Mirren after fellow striker James Keatings suffered a serious knee injury which has ruled him out of action for six weeks during the win over Dunfermline the previous week.
But, impressed by Martin Boyle’s performance after he replaced Keatings at East End Park, Lennon felt he deserved his chance and was rewarded as he turned in a man-of-the-match display, scoring the opening goal in the 2-0 win against the Buddies and earning himself a standing ovation from the home support as he made way for Alex Harris in the dying minutes of the game.
Now Boyle seems certain to retain his place for Saturday’s trip to face Ayr United, Lennon having admitted a player who has made the majority of his appearances for Hibs as a substitute had “seized his opportunity brilliantly”.
He said: “I was absolutely delighted with Martin’s contribution. I toyed with the idea of starting with Jason. He’s a bona-fide centre forward but I think Martin deserved to start given the way he’d played last week.
“I’ve given Jason a ‘jag’ because he’s been a little bit off colour for three or four games. He knows that and he is responding well.
“But, if the team is winning, winning well and scoring goals as they are, he really has to come up to the mark and push his way through. Jason is going to be an important player as the season goes on. No doubt about that.
“However, it’s not all about Jason, it’s about the squad. These players are coming in and doing their best.”
Meanwhile, Lennon revealed he believes the knee injury which forced midfielder John McGinn to limp off against his old club, shouldn’t prevent him being available for the trip to Somerset Park.
He did disclose, though, that the Scotland player is also suffering an ankle problem which will need to be watched as the season wears on. Lennon said: “John’s got a real thick piece of calcified bone on top of the ankle.
“You get calcium deposits that build up so we will have to monitor it and he may need it ‘shaved’. He felt a bit of a niggle on the medial side of his knee but I don’t think it will be too serious.”
Hibs forward Grant Holt secured the win with another first-half strike although he later saw his penalty saved by Saints goalkeeper Jamie Langfield.