Hibs boss Alan Stubbs has backed mis-firing strikers Jason Cummings and Anthony Stokes to come good, insisting: “They’ll hit it off.”
Stokes created a buzz among the Easter Road support when he returned to the Capital club for a second spell on loan from Celtic during the January transfer window to join top-scorer Cummings in what was believed to be a strike-force many would find too hot to handle.
However, after scoring in each of his first two games for Hibs, Republic of Ireland hitman Stokes hasn’t found the net in his last seven matches, while Cummings has been stuck on the 20-mark since his Scottish Cup winner against Hearts a month ago. But today Stubbs reiterated his faith in the strike-pair, while acknowledging the fact Cummings and Stokes have yet to form the lethal partnership fans anticipated. He said: “Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I work with them day in, day out. And I’m afraid to say they’re not the first strikers to go through a spell where they haven’t scored for a few games. Every striker goes through spells like this. They have to keep putting performances in. They have to keep believing in what has got Jason his goals. Stokesy’s ability is not in question, they’ll hit it off. Nothing changes. When I brought them in everybody was excited. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time.”
Stubbs agreed, however, that the primary objective for the pair was to be scoring goals, saying: “It’s not just about Stokesy and Jason, we have James Keatings, we have Chris Dagnall, Farid El Alagui.
“Listen, I’m not going to sit here for the next six week saying they need to keep playing well. Yes, they have to score goals, they’re the same as the rest of the starting XI, they have to perform.
“But I will back them, 100 per cent. I don’t easily desert my players just because they’ve gone a few games without scoring. When you have quality it’s always just a matter of time.”
Hibs go into tonight’s Scottish Cup quarter-final replay against Inverness Caledonian Thistle having not won in their past five matches following a run which saw them defeated just once in 28 games, but Stubbs insisted he’s not concerned, saying: “Everyone has a period within the season where you do not necessarily get the results.
“Our performances have been okay. It’s just we’ve felt the brunt of maybe not getting the rub of the green. I’m aware of it, but I’m not alarmed by it. We are better than what our last five games have been, but we know we want to get back on track very, very quickly.”
And Stubbs believes his players will quickly get over the disappointment of Sunday’s League Cup final defeat, pointing to the fact they have tonight’s match and a promotion bid to contend with.
He said: “You can’t feel sorry for yourself or go away and bury your head in the sand. It’s not the way I want the players to be or the way they have behaved since I arrived. You take the rough with the smooth. Sunday was disappointing because we felt we probably deserved a bit more out of the game, but we didn’t.
“That’s cup finals. I want to get to another and win.
“We have potentially 16 games left if my calculations are right. Nine in the league, I’m hoping three in the Scottish Cup and I’m hoping four in the play-offs. That’s what we have to focus on. We have 16 games left and if we do what we want in them, we still have a lot ahead of us.”