EFL Player in Focus: Jason Cummings

Jason Cummings has had a great start to life at Shrewsbury Town, having starred in his home debut - Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over Southend.

Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) looks at Cummings’ career to date, his key attributes and what the future holds.

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Impressive finishing at Hibs

Hibernian was the club at which Cummings began his senior career.

Understandably, at 18, he did not score any league goals in 18 appearances in the Scottish Premiership in 2013-14 – although he did bag a brace in the relegation/promotion Play-Off Eliminator clash with Hamilton Academical, which Hibs ultimately lost over two legs.

Ironically, Cummings’ missed penalty in the return leg, which means the team suffered relegation to the Scottish Championship, arguably benefited his career, indirectly at least.

The young striker was handed more starts in the division below and it was 2014-15 – as well as the following two campaigns – in which he established his main strength.

Cummings hit 18, 18 then 19 league goals, highlighting his excellent finishing ability.

Limited gametime at Forest

Cummings was signed, in 2017, by Mark Warburton at Nottingham Forest – and the hope was that he could transfer his excellent form to the English game straight away.

It did not work out that way, with the striker managing just seven starts for the Reds – then was loaned out in January to Rangers, where he scored just two league goals.

Cummings started the 2018-19 campaign in outstanding form for Peterborough, scoring six goals in five August league starts – he appeared to be forming a fine strike-pairing with Matt Godden.

In fact, Cummings’ form dropped alarmingly and, possibly due to reported disagreements with manager Steve Evans, he lost his place in the team.

Cummings also struggled to make an impact in a subsequent loan spell at Luton, so last season drew question marks over his work ethic.

It seems, with Cummings, that his form depends squarely on his confidence – perhaps more so than other strikers.

When he is on form, he is unstoppable – he has already enjoyed three goalscoring runs of five or more games in his career – but perhaps when he loses his mojo, he does not do the fundamentals as well as some might hope and that could be where certain managers have lost patience.

Game-changer for Shrewsbury?

It may be that the security of a permanent move, to a club at which Cummings knows he is likely to get game-time, has been very beneficial to his career – especially after he had been reportedly frozen out by Sabri Lamouchi.

Shrewsbury Town scored just four goals in six August league encounters.

One of them was a Ryan Giles belter in the 1-0 opening day victory over Portsmouth – their only shot on target that day – the others came in the 3-2 win at Accrington Stanley, thanks to an inspired substitute appearance from Daniel Udoh.

Salop had struggled to create chances, with Fejiri Okenabirhie being unpredictable, Steve Morison past his best and Daniel Udoh raw.

The arrival of Cummings though, as well as fellow forward Callum Lang on loan from Wigan, means Shrewsbury can manage the game-time of the aforementioned strikers and possibly get more out of them in short bursts.

Besides, Shrewsbury have now scored three goals in 102 minutes with Cummings on the field, in comparison with six in 573 without – a goal every 34 minutes against one in 96, which shows what a big impact he has made, albeit based on a small sample size.

This is early days, but it looks like Cummings has been just what Shrewsbury needed to improve their goal return – and Shrewsbury have been just what Cummings needed to re-build his career.

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