Alan Stubbs today insisted teenager Jason Cummings’ new three-year contract underlined Hibs determination to hold onto their best young players, predicting a “great time” for Easter Road fans as they watch the kids begin to fulfil their potential.
Cummings has joined Sam Stanton, Alex Harris and Jordon Forster in recent months in extending their deals, having, in the words of the head coach, “come from nowhere”.
But his performances in his first season have already made other clubs sit up and take notice with Hibs having, as the Evening News revealed, knocked back two bids from English Premier League side Swansea City.
Stubbs, however, insisted Cummings’ new deal, which ties him to Hibs until the summer of 2017, had nothing to do with those approaches, the sole intention being to ensure a boy who was working as a gardener only 12 months ago blossoms in Edinburgh rather than uprooting and going elsewhere.
The head coach said: “I think it’s important from the club’s point of view that you sign your young players of potential. I think the likes of Sam, Alex, Jason and Danny Handling are players of huge potential and I feel me and my staff will get the best out of these players.
“That will be a great time for the fans because I do not feel as if they have seen the best of these players yet. It’s my job to try to get them to express themselves out there on the grass and show the potential that they have and to develop into really good players.”
Asked if he felt today’s crop of youngsters could emulate the “golden generation” of Garry O’Connor, Derek Riordan, Steven Whittaker, Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson, Stubbs admitted: “I’d love to be in a position to say yes, but the ones who will decide that will be the players. I have come across a lot of players who have had potential but not the desire and also players who have the desire but not necessarily great potential.
“It’s about finding the right balance. They have to try to find that vital ingredient that makes them different, that’s the important thing.
“I think these lads have lots of ability but for me they have shown a real desire in pre-season which bodes well for them because it shows me they have that determination and look in their eyes that says they want it.
“Sometimes players want the trappings, but do not necessarily want to put the work in.”
While excited at Cummings’ prospects, Stubbs, who revealed he’d watched the youngster score two stunning goals in the first play-off match against Hamilton, cautioned against expecting too much too soon, reasoning that he has to keep his feet on the ground.
He said: “Jason has had a lot of attention in a short space of time and we need to be careful because it can be easy for a young lad to lose their way, to think it’s just going to be a matter of time, that it’s just going to be an upward curve.
“Unfortunately it does not work out like that – you have to be prepared to work twice as hard. If the fact Jason was working as a gardener a year ago doesn’t remind him, it should.
“Anyone who knows him knows he is a confident boy. I don’t have a problem with that, but we have to channel it the right way.”