BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Alan Stubbs is confident top scorer Jason Cummings will be back for Hibernian’s crucial league encounter with Falkirk next Sunday after missing out at the weekend because of illness.
The 20-year-old’s absence from the 2-0 win over Raith Rovers set tongues wagging after weeks of speculation over his future at the club.
The Scotland under-21 internationalist is being tracked by a host of English clubs, including the likes of Fulham, Wolves, Reading, Rotherham and Leeds United, and with the January transfer window now open, rumours have been circulating.
However, Stubbs explained that illness had kept the young marksman away from the club all week, and that he fully expects him to return in time for next weekend’s trip to Falkirk.
He said: “Jason hasn’t been well, he’s been struggling all week.
“I’ve had a few conversations with him. I spoke to him on Sunday and he sounded really rough, and I’ve spoken to him as the week’s gone on. He’s better.
“He’s still a bit under the weather but he’ll be fine for next weekend.
“He said this is the worst he’s every felt in the whole of his career!
“Tony (Reguero) was the same. He’s been feeling a but under the weather, so we kept him away from the whole group all week, just in case.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs has confessed it was a game of two halves for Hibs at Stark’s Park on Saturday as they eventually eased past Raith and into the fifth round of the Scottish Cup.
Following an opening 45 minutes shaded by Rovers, the Easter Road side exploded into life around the hour mark with two goals in the space of three minutes from Darren McGregor – the 1,000th for the club in the cup – and Dominique Malonga.
However, Stubbs has admitted it took a rocket from him at the interval to ensure they perked up.
He added: “In the first-half we weren’t our normal self. We were a team that was waiting for something to happen rather than making something happen.
“At half-time I just had a few words with them, I wasn’t happy with them whatsoever. I told them to pull the finger out and I told them what I thought.
“But I know what I’ve got and I knew they would respond and if you look at the two halves, it was night and day when you compare the first to the second.
“It’s easy for me at times because I know what I’ve got and I know what I can say to them, and I know more often than not I’m right in what I’m saying.
“Sometimes I’m wrong, but hopefully not too often.
“We just weren’t doing the basics right, we weren’t winning second balls and we were making too many sloppy errors.
“Our first touch wasn’t right, we were taking our first touch into bodies rather than away, and we weren’t making the pitch big enough.
“In the second-half we did it better and made a couple of substitutions that, I think, helped us grab hold of the game a bit more and grab it by the scruff of the neck.
“And, in the end, it wasn’t a comfortable win, but I don’t think the result was in doubt.”
Asked if this could be Hibs’ year in the cup after their infamous 114-year drought in the tournament, he praised the over 3,500 supporters who travelled to Fife.
He added: “I bloody hope so. We’ll see. As long as we’re still in it we can keep dreaming. Just four more wins!
“And if we keep getting support like we did on Saturday then hopefully we can keep repaying the, because the support we’re having at this moment in time is nothing short of fantastic.”