Fulham captain Tom Cairney is delighted to be back having been sidelined through illness just as Marco Silva’s men hit top form.

The Scottish midfielder returned as a late substitute in the 5-1 win at Swansea on Tuesday and he admitted to FFCTV this afternoon that he couldn’t have scripted a better scenario to return to first-team football.

“It was nice. I missed a couple of games through illness and in that time the boys picked up maximum points. That was amazing – and just to be back out there was nice. It makes it easier when they are winning, especially at this stage of the season, when picking up points is so important. It was a perfect scenario [for me to come on] – touch the ball a few times, get a little blow out and it was nice to be back out there really.”

Cairney considers the competition for places in Fulham’s midfield to be crucial in coaxing consistent displays from the league leaders.

“It’s fantastic. Any successful team needs competition for places. If you look at the best teams in the world, they have two or three people in the same position fighting for a place. That’s why we are where we are at the minute because of that competition for places. When it is matchday, we come together and perform for each other.”

The classy midfielder is expecting another tough test when Fulham travel to Barnsley, who are battling for their lives at the wrong end of the Championship table.

“They always seem to finish the season quite strong. I remember a couple of years they were in the relegation zone and stayed up in the end – beating Brentford away and stayed up! I think it will be a difficult game. I thought the home game was quite hard, even though we made it look quite easy in the end with the scoreline. It was very competitive and they gave it everything, so it will be a tough game.”