Tam McManus has backed Jason Cummings to get back among the goals after watching the Hibs striker fail to hit the back of the net for the fourth game in succession.
After eight goals in six matches at the start of the season, Cummings has hit a drought, finding himself on the receiving end of some stinging criticism from Easter Road boss Neil Lennon.
But former Hibs hitman McManus, who was at Stark’s Park last weekend to see Cummings fire a blank yet again in a no-scoring draw, insists the 21-year-old is still capable of claiming 25 Championship goals like he did last season.
Suggesting Saturday’s match against struggling Dunfermline could offer Cummings the ideal opportunity to hit the goal trail again, McManus said: “Jason has been a very important player for Hibs in the last couple of seasons but he is obviously going through a little dry spell at the minute.
“But, let me tell you, I went through far longer dry spells. I’ve seen the last two league games and he hasn’t had many chances. He didn’t get a sniff against Dundee United and then Marvin Bartley’s sending off at Raith Rovers makes it difficult. As a striker, it becomes more about working hard and tracking back to make up for having ten men.
“However, Jason is a goalscorer and once he finds the net he’ll be back on it. Four games without goal is nothing. You can’t put all the pressure on him, but he is the guy the Hibs supporters are looking to as their main man. Twenty five goals from him will win the league and I think he will still get there.”
McManus admitted every striker goes through a crisis of confidence when the goals dry up but, he insisted, it’s something they learn to handle the more experienced they become. He said: “When you go a certain amount of games without scoring, the goals seem to shrink.
“Jason just needs one goal to sort that out and, with the players Hibs have in behind him, the likes of James Keatings and John McGinn, they will create chances for him.
“Hibs go to Dunfermline on Saturday, they are struggling at the minute and it could be a good time for Jason to get back on the goal trail. He just needs one to come of his backside or a tap-in and you will see a different player all round.”
Cummings has shown his frustration at being substituted at times, something McManus revealed he can relate to, saying: “I look at some of the stuff Jason does on the pitch and I think ‘that just reminds me of me’. “I used to fall out with the world. I’d throw water bottles about and all that. I remember Bobby Williamson taking me off in one game and I had the same reaction. He got me into his office on the Monday morning and went through ten to 15 minutes of footage to show me why he taken me off and it was a case of ‘hands up, I can see why.’
“When you are young you have your ego. You want to stay on the pitch, you believe you can score, you want to get the winning goal and the headlines. Jason has done that plenty of times over the last couple of years.”
Although Lennon has made his unhappiness clear to Cummings, McManus pointed to the £1.7 million bid from Peterborough United turned down by Hibs in the summer as proof of what his manager thinks of him. He said: “To hear ‘we think you are worth more than that’ must have been brilliant for his confidence. Make no mistake, Neil Lennon rates Jason very highly otherwise he would have sold him.”
Although Hibs have stuttered recently, they have returned to the top of the Championship table and McManus fully expects them to win the title but not as quickly as he initially believed.
He said: “It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. After winning the first five I thought they would have it won by Christmas and said so on Twitter. It’s one of those tweets that you know might come back to haunt you – but I still expect them to win the league.”