Tom Cairney deserved to mark his return to first team action with a goal after all his hard work to recover from a serious knee injury, according to Fulham boss Marco Silva.

The club captain took just twelve minutes to break the deadlock at Craven Cottage this afternoon after he came on as a half-time substitute having been sidelined for ten months with persistent knee problems. The classy playmaker volleyed home majestically after Harry Wilson’s shot had been blocked to shatter Cardiff’s brave resistance – and Fulham moved into the Championship’s top two after Aleksandar Mitrovic added a second six minutes later.

Silva was full of praise for his returning hero after the final whistle.

“We can take many positives from the game. We scored two good goals, we kept being patient and kept playing the same way. The first goal was important for us as the game was more open and there was space for us to explore. It was a clean sheet too, which is important as well, and it was important for Tom to score.

“He deserves it after all these months out and it has been so tough for him, so good to come back with a goal after working so hard in the gym which has been so hard for him. You can imagine how happy he is, these feelings in the moment are great and he helped the team win the game. I had to decide on him or Josh Onomah to bring on and brought him on to give more creativity in that position which he did.”

Silva is confident that Harrison Reed will be fit to face Nottingham Forest on Saturday, despite being withdrawn as a precaution at half time after feeling tightness in his calf.

“I am waiting on the feedback of the medical staff about the calf. I don’t think it is serious, but we will have to wait and see what the scans say.”