Tom Cairney has withdrawn from the Scotland squad for next month’s international double header against Belgium and Albania due to an ankle injury.
The Fulham captain limped off towards the end of their first Premier League victory of the season against Burnley on Sunday and was rested for last night’s League Cup win over Exeter City. Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic had hoped that the playmaker would be available for Saturday’s trip to face Brighton and Hove Albion, but that now looks unlikely following Cairney’s withdrawal.
The 27 year-old suffered serious disruption to the start of his campaign last season due to a persistent knee injury and this latest ankle problem, caused by a late challenge from Burnley’s Charlie Taylor, could give Jokanovic a selection headache for the clash at the AMEX this weekend. Cairney’s possible absence could open the door to Stefan Johansen, who captained the Whites to victory over the Grecians last night.
Alex McLeish has named Fulham duo Tom Cairney and Kevin McDonald in his Scotland squad for the forthcoming international fixtures against Belgium and Albania.
Fulham skipper Cairney has been handed a recall to the senior squad after missing the summer internationals against Peru and Mexico having scored the winner in the Championship play-off final. The 27 year-old was taken towards the end of yesterday’s win against Burnley following a heavy challenge, but Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic confirmed that Cairney merely rolled his ankle and was withdrawn as a precaution.
Cairney is joined in the senior squad by holding midfielder Kevin McDonald, who returned to the Fulham line-up yesterday, and will be hoping to add to his solitary international cap.
Kevin McDonald believes his excellent form for Fulham over the past eighteen months is deserving of a call-up to the Scotland squad.
The Carnoustie-born midfielder has won call-ups to the Scottish squad before but has not yet won a cap for his country. McDonald, who was watched by new national team manager Alex McLeish during Fulham’s 2-0 over Aston Villa at the weekend, told GetWestLondon’s Ryan O’Donovan that he felt he worth an opportunity at international level:
Everyone wants to play for their country but at the end of the day it’s one of those things, I can only do well for Fulham and if they don’t think I’m doing well enough or good enough to be in the squad then that’s their decision – I can’t influence it any more.
I’ve been playing at Fulham for 18 months, done a good job here and I can’t do much else if you ask me. Maybe the new manager comes in might give me a chance and I’ll show what I can do, it’s not up to me it’s up to them.
The 29 year-old voiced his frustration at not being able to prove his worth during a game, with his international experience so far limited to just training sessions.
I think I have a right to have a chance to be in the squad, I’ve been playing at a good level in the Championship for years and never been given the chance to play in the national team, I’ve been there training and stuff but it’s not the same, I’m not the best of trainers as it is, I’m more of a game player.
McDonald insisted that he would not be adapting the way he plays in order to satisfy McLeish and will be fully focused on Fulham’s run in as the Whites aim to sustain their push for promotion to the Premier League.
I would say I deserve a chance, but again what I think and what they think is different, up until now I’ve not been given a cap and unless a new manager wants to give me a chance it’ll stay that way. If it stays that way I’ll be the same, it’s not going to change the way I play, I’ll continue to give 100% for Fulham and that’s my main focus.
Fulham captain Tom Cairney has tonight withdrawn from the Scotland squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Lithuania and Malta.
Cairney hinted in a post-match interview with Get West London following Fulham’s 2-0 win at Ipswich Town that he would be in touch with the Scottish medical staff after revealing that he had undergone an injection to ensure that he could start the Championship clash at Portman Road. The Fulham midfielder has had to manage his playing time after suffering a knee injury during pre-season and suggested that he would not be fully fit for international duty.
The 26 year-old played the full ninety minutes as Fulham recorded their first league victory of the campaign against Mick McCarthy’s previously unbeaten Ipswich side but his afternoon was not free of injury worries as he was taken off the pitch on three occasions in the first half having been the subject of heavy challenges.
Tom Cairney was enthralled by his Scotland international debut last month – describing his first appearance against Canada as an ‘exciting experience’ and the Fulham midfielder is now targeting a regular place in Gordon Strachan’s side.
The 26 year-old, who became the first Championship player to reach a total of ten league goals and league assists in Fulham’s 3-1 win at Norwich City on Good Friday, was finally called up to a Scotland squad by Strachan in March after an excellent season at Craven Cottage. The former Hull and Blackburn playmaker relished his new surroundings and described his first taste of international football as a week to remember.
Speaking to the Scottish Mail on Sunday, Cairney said:
I didn’t know what to expect but it was a week to remember. It was great to get my first cap and, although I didn’t get on against Slovenia, it was great just to be involved, even better that Chrissy [Martin] should get the winner for us.
I did feel there was a bit of tension all week. Even in team meetings there was an edge. You don’t normally get players and the manager coming out and continuously saying this is a must-win game but that was the message all week. I haven’t experienced anything quite like that before. For it to be that way in my first week was actually quite excited.
Cairney freely admits that he was baffled by the Tartan Army’s booing of his Fulham team-mate Chris Martin’s arrival as a late substitute and was delighted to see the striker score the crucial goal that extended Scotland’s slim qualifying hopes.
When Chrissy came on, I wondered what was going on. Were the fans really booing him and why? I just didn’t understand it. But it was funny because a few of the lads on the bench said right away that it was a stick-on he would score the winner.
He is my roomie at Fulham, so I was especially delighted for him. He’s like my dad in that he’s the sensible one, with the kids at home and all that. He’s quite quiet and reserved and just has an older head on his shoulders. He was buzzing when he came in afterwards and every player went up to congratulate him.
I know Chris is there to score goals but he does a lot more work than people realise. He has a very clever brain. It doesn’t sound much but his hold-up work, bringing the rest of us into play, is top-notch. Whenever, I lift my head he is there. He is a big strong man and it’s easy to hit his feet or his chest. He’s a great target man. Yes, he will be judged on goals but international football is the to level and that’s not easy.
His international debut was a proud moment for Cairney, who had a large collection of his family in attendance at Easter Road.
I had the family there for both games, I’d say 12 to 15 of them. I think Easter Road was quite an emotional night for my dad. I’ve always wanted to see if I could play at international level. I’ve now got that under my belt but I’d like to get a few caps if I can.
Gordon Strachan spoke to me one-on-one, he just wanted to know about my background and then told me to go out and do exactly what I’d been doing for Fulham. I knew I needed to get on the ball and play passes but it’s always that little bit harder when you’re laying in a new team.
I think I held my own in training and felt comfortable alongside guys like Darren Fletcher and Robert Snodgrass against Canada, even if the pitch wasn’t great – I haven’t played in conditions like that for a long time. But I managed to show glimpses of what I’ve been doing for Fulham. I just wish Chrissy had helped me out by sticking away his chance when I put him through. Clearly, I was just warming him up for the Sunday!
Cairney remains confident that Fulham can conclude an exciting season by making the Championship play-offs.
That’s the aim. We keep hopping in and out of the top six but that’s just the way this league goes. It’s heart attack material. All being well, we’ll make the play-offs and I’ll be up to speed when the next Scotland squad is announced.
Fulham’s creative hub hasn’t even considered a break at the end of the season – with mouthwatering prospect of a Scotland-England clash at Hampden Park on the horizon.
I’ve not even thought about holidays. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in Scotland v England? Hopefully, I’ve done enough to suggest I can be around the squad but the manager didn’t give me any indication of that. The Slovenia game was everything and the overwhelming feeling was one of relief. It wasn’t the time to be asking about myself.
People had been asking me about Scotland for the last for few seasons and I got a bit tired answering the quest. When it finally game, it was a great feeling. I’m hungry for more. Being on the bench for a qualifier at Hampden was quite an experience. Stuart Armstrong had a great debut and set up the goal, so I’ve no complaints about not playing’.