BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
NEIL LENNON has warned “off colour” Jason Cummings that he faces a fight to get back in the Hibs side.
However, the Easter Road boss is adamant the Scotland under-21 star does have a massive part to play in the Hibees title charge this season.
Cummings, who was the subject of a rejected £1.7 million bid from Peterborough in the summer, remains the capital club’s top scorer with eight goals this season but has not found the target since September 17.
He has been an unused substitute in Hibs’ last two matches – convincing wins over Dunfermline and St Mirren – and will have been acutely aware that Martin Boyle and Grant Holt looked a ready made partnership in Saturday’s triumph over the Buddies.
Lennon has told Cummings to rise to the challenge of forcing his way into the starting XI as he predicted the 21-year-old will still have a pivotal role this term. “I toyed with the idea of starting with Jason against St Mirren,” explained Lennon ahead of this weekend’s trip to face Ayr United.
“He’s a bona-fide centre forward but I think Martin [Boyle] deserved to start off the back of how well he played in the previous week.
“I’ve given Jason a ‘jag’ because he’s been a little bit off colour for three or four games. He knows that and he is responding well.
“But, if the team is winning, winning well and scoring goals – as we have done in the last couple of games – then he really has to come up to the mark and push his way through.
“He is going to be an important player as the season goes on, there is no question about that.
“However, it’s not all about Jason, it’s about the squad. These players are coming in and doing their bit.”
Meanwhile, Lennon has urged his side to exact revenge on Ayr, who remain the only side to have beaten Hibs in the league, when the sides meet at Somerset Park.
The Honest Men claimed a shock 2-1 win at Easter Road in September, coming from behind after Marvin Bartley was controversially sent off – a dismissal that was later rescinded.
“I hope we can steal the points this time,” continued Lennon. “We have been really good in all the games and dominated most of them – that was the case against Ayr.
“We had good chances that we didn’t take and obviously the sending off changed the game. That’s still the only defeat we’ve had in 11 league games.
“Saturday is an opportunity to put that right but, more importantly, it is an opportunity to keep the run going.”