Grant Holt is adamant Hibs goal machine Jason Cummings possesses the required dedication to make the most of his potential and enjoy a fruitful career in England if he wishes.
The 21-year-old is the hottest young striker in Scotland with 71 goals to his name already for the Easter Road club. Although contracted to Hibs for another three years, Cummings has made no secret of his desire to test himself at a higher level in the future.
Holt, who shone in the English Premier League with Norwich City in his peak years, was Cummings’ main strike partner as he bagged 23 goals for Hibs on their way to the Championship title over the past season, and the 36-year-old believes that the Edinburgh boy is a talent of genuine substance who will flourish as long as he retains his focus.
“Jason’s got the tools to go down south,” Holt, who left Hibs a fortnight ago, told the Evening News. “He’s just got to keep learning and take the right advice from the right people around him. Everyone sees Jason as a joker, and he is. But what people don’t see is the other side of him – the guy who’s on the training pitch working hard. He spends a lot of time on his finishing and practising his free-kicks, and he’s had his rewards for that over the last year. As long as he keeps doing what he’s doing and listens to the right people, Jason will have a good career.”
Holt explained that, in order to maintain an upward trajectory, Cummings must refine his all-round game, in the same way that Scotland striker Chris Martin and his England counterpart Harry Kane did in the early stages of their careers before going on to be prolific goal-scorers in the top two divisions down south.
“When you’re 21, you’re just potential,” said Holt. “You’ve got to learn the game first. Look at Harry Kane down the road – he came to Norwich when I was there and also went to Leicester on loan and it wasn’t really happening for him, but look at what he’s doing now. It’s all about learning quickly off different players and in different situations.
“I played with Chris Martin at Norwich when he was young and at that stage he didn’t want to be a target man. He wanted to be a No.10 but he got forced to be a No.9 and learned to play the position, and look at the career he’s had.
“You have to learn quickly. I’m 36 and it took me four or five months to learn how to play in the Scottish Championship. If he goes down south, he’ll have to learn how to play in a different league. He’ll have to work on holding the ball up. He’s a strong boy and he’ll enhance all the parts of his game he needs to and he’ll make his strong parts even better. There are still things in his game that he needs to learn, but the one thing Jason’s got is that he’s a goal-scorer, and everybody wants one of those.”
Cummings last month pinpointed Holt as playing a key role in his success over the past season. The big Cumbrian enjoyed seeing his young sidekick take his game to new heights as the campaign progressed. “There were times Jason dug me out a hole when I couldn’t hit a barn door, but equally I feel I probably helped him as much as anyone in the team,” said Holt. “I could talk him through his game and help him with the bits he didn’t want to do. I think he’ll have learned a lot from playing beside me.
“Anyone watching Jason this year compared to last year will have seen his improvement. I felt he was a different player after Christmas compared to the start of the season. He did a lot more. Look at his performance in the home game against Hearts – if he can replicate that week in, week out, he can go wherever he wants.”