Hibs striker Jason Cummings today hailed his veteran sidekick Grant Holt for doing the dirty work that has allowed him to flourish this season.
The 21-year-old was yesterday shortlisted for the PFA Championship Player of the Year award after scoring 21 goals this term. And the burgeoning Edinburgh boy believes much of his success is down to the impact of 36-year-old Holt, who, despite only scoring seven goals himself, has acted as an effective battering ram alongside him in attack since arriving last summer.
“Holty’s been a massive influence on me this season,” Cummings told the Evening News. “The majority of my goals have come from him. A lot of people don’t see what he does off the ball, all the wrestling with defenders to put me in better positions and things like that. For me, he’s one of the players of the year at Hibs because he’s helped me so much on and off the pitch. He’s actually been a really close mate as well – he makes me laugh for an old guy!
“I probably enjoy playing with him more than any other partner I’ve had because he does all the stuff I hate doing like winning headers and battering defenders. He helps me in that department. The reason he’s not scored as many goals is that he’s very unselfish with his work. He works for the team more than himself and he puts me in a lot of really good positions. If I was to thank anyone for the amount of goals I’ve scored this season, it would be Holty.”
After scoring in excess of 20 goals for a third successive season, Cummings’ future is sure to be the subject of speculation again this summer. The striker is contracted to Hibs until 2020 and is open-minded about what may unfold in the coming months.
“I’ve still got three years at Hibs, but you never know what’s going to happen in the summer,” he said. “I would stay at Hibs all my life if I could but I’d like to get out my comfort zone a bit and try at a higher level. I need to take the leap some time, but I just need to wait and see what happens. At this moment in time, I don’t know what will happen. We’ve still got a couple of games left and I want to get those out of the way first before I even think about what’s going to happen. It’s just a case at this point of wait and see.”
Cummings is keen to prove himself at a higher level next season after having his credentials questioned by some due to the fact the majority of his 69 career goals to date have come while Hibs have been in Scotland’s second tier. “You don’t get the same recognition when you’re in the Championship,” he said. “There are the critics who say ‘you haven’t done it in the Premiership’ but it doesn’t bother me, I don’t lose sleep over it. The hardest thing to do is score goals whether it’s in non-league football or wherever. Scoring 20-plus goals anywhere is good.
“I know deep down that scoring 20-odd goals in the Championship is just as good as doing it in the Premiership. I’ve played against a lot of Premiership teams over the last few years and there’s honestly not that big a difference. People say it’s this big step up but I believe the top four or five teams in the Championship are all more than capable of getting into the Premiership no problem so I don’t think it’ll be a problem for me or the club. I believe we will surprise a lot of people next season by just how well we do.”
After three years of scoring consistently in the Championship, Cummings believes he is equipped take the step up to the Premiership in his stride. “I believe I can be one of the main strikers at that level,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where I go or what league I play in, I know that I’ll score goals. That’s what my game’s based on and, if I don’t do that, then I may as well retire, as that’s all I do.”
Cummings was speaking publicly for the first time since footage of him playfully ambushing professional wrestler Grado in the canteen at Hibs training ground last week went viral. “I was surprised how much it took off,” he said of a video that was retweeted more than 10,000 times from his own account alone. “I knew it was funny and thought I’d get a few laughs off my mates and stuff, but I didn’t expect it to take off that much. My Twitter was the busiest it’s been. I’ve scored five goals against Hearts and my Twitter hasn’t blown up like that. I think I am in the wrong industry!
“No-one believes me but it was genuinely off the cuff. I didn’t even know Grado was coming in. I didn’t train that day and he was out taking penalties with the boys. I’m actually not sure why he was in, promoting a charity I think. Not many of the boys knew who he was. But me and [Dylan] McGeouch are actually big Grado fans. Over the years we have spoken about him and we used to copy his dance and stuff. So we were absolutely star-struck when we saw him. McGeouch told me he was having his lunch, so I said we’ll go in and wrestle him for a laugh and video it.
“There was tape in the changing room so I got all that on – and big Fonts [Liam Fontaine] wrote Cumdog on my chest. We got the music on as well. When we went in, Grado was having his soup. He looked round wondering what was going on and I’ve just gone and wrestled him. It was completely off the cuff. I didn’t really know what to do. It was probably the most random thing ever to happen when you are trying to work. To be fair, the manager was laughing as well so it was just all banter.”