Jason Cummings aims to score for Scotland

Jason Cummings opened the scoring with fewer than three minutes gone
Jason Cummings opened the scoring with fewer than three minutes gone
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He’s been banging in the goals for Hibs, but now Jason Cummings wants to do the same for Scotland.

The striker took his tally to seven as he set the Capital outfit on their way to a 3-0 win against Queen of the South and is already a third of the way to matching his total for the whole of last season.

But while his Easter Road team-mates can enjoy a break from Championship action this weekend, the 20-year-old will be heading for Pittodrie where Scotland’s Under-21 side begin their European Championship qualifying campaign with matches against France and Iceland.

Having gone close to scoring as he won his first cap at that level in last month’s 2-1 friendly win over Northern Ireland in Lurgan, Cummings admits he’s desperate to keep his hot streak going in a dark blue jersey.

He said: “I’d love to get one for Scotland. Every game I play in I’m looking to score so it would be nice if I got one for my country. I’m looking forward to getting away. I felt I was unlucky not score in the last game but it was my first time away and I’m a bit more used to it and looking to kick on.”

If he does manage to nick a goal it’s unlikely it will be as quickly as his strike at Palmerston Park, Cummings rifling the ball beyond Queens goalkeeper Robbie Thomson with less than three minutes on the clock after some good work by Dominique Malonga and Lewis Stevenson.

In doing so he underlined the point made by boss Alan Stubbs seven days earlier following that disappointing draw against St Mirren of the importance of getting the first goal, this time round Queens manager James Fowler admitting his side never really recovered from that early setback.

Fowler had watched Hibs twice in four days as he prepared for this encounter, taking in the League Cup win over Aberdeen and then the Saints clash but immediately his game plan began to unravel.

There again, Hibs were much brighter and sharper than they had been at the end of a week which had seen them play three games, with the enigmatic Malonga leading the line superbly, his backheel wrongfooting the Queens defence to allow Stevenson to deliver that cross for Cummings to convert and then cleverly holding the ball as he waited for Liam Henderson’s run before laying it into the midfielder’s path for him to add a second before half-time.

In between Thomson had been kept busy, twice getting down to save low shots from Cummings, throwing himself across his goal to clutch efforts from Malonga and Henderson and getting lucky when John McGinn’s drive crashed off his legs and over.

Stubbs said: “It doesn’t matter who you play against, the first goal can settle everyone down and to score so early gave us that extra impetus.

“I was obviously happy to go in 2-0 up but you are never comfortable as while it’s obviously a nice scoreline, it can be a vulnerable one as well.”

Fowler recognised that fact, a few no doubt well chosen words during the interval galvanising his players who took a better grip on the game without, as the manager conceded, really posing any great threat to Hibs.

“I thought we were decent first half,” said Stubbs, “But in the second we did not get control of the game as much as we would have liked for parts of the game. We just lost a little bit of a grip and I would have liked us to have grabbed hold of it and controlled it a bit more than we did.”

McGinn almost eased any nagging doubt Stubbs may have had with a free-kick which crashed back off the crossbar with Thomson helpless, but substitute Martin Boyle, inset, did so a couple of minutes from time, guiding home another low cross from Stevenson.

Stubbs said: “We scored three well-worked goals. John was unlucky but we scored really pleasing goals. We’d worked on bits of our play getting forward and getting more bodies into the box so the boys deserve a lot of credit.”

Although he is still waiting for strikers James Keatings, Henri Anier and Farid El Alagui to return to full fitness, Stubbs, who had Jamie Insall on the bench for the first time, believes the competition for places is already paying dividends admitting Malonga had been disappointed not to start the Saints match following his fantastic solo goal against Aberdeen while Boyle would have felt likewise on this occasion having notched the equaliser against the Buddies.

The head coach said: “I have a good group of players so I can mix and match when I feel it’s right and I felt it was right for Dom. He was obviously disappointed last week but he answered me in the best possible way with his performance.

“I thought he was terrific. A goal would have rounded off a really excellent performance from him.

“His hold-up play was good, his runs were intelligent and he linked up well. He looked a danger every time the ball went in to him.

“He’ll be disappointed, I’d imagine, that he did not score but I have to be honest, I was thrilled with his performance. He looked really sharp, he was always on the edge of everything we did, he just seemed to be at the centre of everything which is good.

“Jason scores his goal but I thought Dom’s performance was right up there.”

Admitting he’s looking forward to being spoiled for choice when all seven strikers at his disposal are up and running, Stubbs said: “Sometimes we’ll leave players out, not necessarily because of performance but because we feel for that particular game that’s the best way to go.

“Sometimes it will be because we feel the levels have dropped but on this occasion that had nothing to do with it. Martin has been good when he’s been in the team but we just felt we wanted to have an extra man up front especially with their three at the back.

“We thought we could hurt them so we worked on a number of things and it was nice they came off.”