BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
The chip shop’s loss has been Hibernian’s gain after Jason Cummings revealed how ditching battered Mars Bars has helped him satisfy his appetite for goals.
The 20-year-old admits he is currently in the best form of his career, scoring six times in his last six appearances for the capital club – reaching 12 for the season – including a clinically converted spot-kick in Wednesday night’s 3-0 League Cup win over Dundee United.
That prolific streak was acknowledged yesterday when the Scotland internationalist was named Ladbrokes Championship player of the month for October, ensuring double delight for the Easter Road outfit as Alan Stubbs claimed the managers’ award.
The top scorer in the second tier last term, Cummings has always possessed an eye for goal, however his performances this season have hinted at the development of an altogether more well-rounded footballer, bringing teammates in to the game and stretching defences with bright movement.
Cummings attributes his improvement to a wide range of factors, from tireless work with the coaching team at Hibs to shaking off his enfant terrible reputation off the pitch. However, a regimented diet is one of the first things which spring to mind when the youngster is asked to sum up the change in his game.
“I have stopped eating chippies! I have just been watching what I have been eating,” he smiled. “I feel physically stronger and fitter and I have been hitting the gym a lot more.
“I do miss a chippy, though! And a Deep Fried Mars Bar . . . I used to get one every lunchtime when I was at school. But no, the dog days are over now, I am past the chippy days. It’s salad now.
“I would say I have matured off the pitch a lot more this season just by not mucking about and working harder. Everyone is different but I think that is just down to growing up.
“I am out of my teenage years now and I realise I have a good chance. It’s easy to slip away so I want to do the best I can. It’s a short career.”
The SPFL are not the only ones to have noticed Cummings’ recent form. The scouts’ list at recent Hibs games has been swelled by parties monitoring his progress.
Swansea City eyed a move for the player in the summer, Rotherham United have publicly declared their interest and Fulham were last week linked with a January move for the player.
“That is a massive compliment, if anything it makes me more confident and play better,” continued Cummings, addressing the speculation for the first time. “But I’ve got good people looking after me as well so they are better looking at that type of thing than me.
“All I am bothered about is playing football and scoring goals and I am enjoying it. I’m enjoying it here and that’s the main thing – if you’re not enjoying yourself what’s the point?
“I am scoring a lot of goals and I would love to help take the club back up to where it belongs. That’s one of the main aim for me and all the boys. We want to get back into that league and I think this season we have a great chance.”
Cummings has even succeeded in winning over Celtic striker, and predecessor as Hibs’ goal-scoring talisman, Leigh Griffiths.
Griffiths recently encouraged Cummings to continue his recent form on Twitter, just over a year since branding the player “#billybigtime” following his proclamation in a post-match interview that he had “the touch of an angel”.
“I saw that [message]. It was good to hear from him,” continued Cummings. “He’s a sound guy and he’s doing well at Celtic so I appreciated it.
“There have been a lot of players here who have done a lot of good things off the back of Hibs and I look up to a lot of players who have left here and gone on to big things.”