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Cairney keen to carve out a successful Scotland career

By Ronnie Esplin

Tom Cairney is desperate to make sure his relationship with the Scotland national team is more than fleeting. The Fulham midfielder has played at Under-19 and Under-21 level in dark blue but received his first call-up to Gordon Strachan's senior squad for the double-header against Canada and Slovenia.

Cairney, born in Nottingham but who qualifies through his Scottish father, described his inclusion as "brilliant" and is keen to make sure he is part of the senior set-up for years to come.

"I don't want to be a flash in the pan," the 26-year-old said. "I want to be here for a number of years, as tough as that is. Once I am in I would like to stay in.

"I wanted it for a long time but to get the call-up was quite surprising in a way. I was waiting for international breaks and it has never happened so, no matter how the season has gone, is surprising.

"I thought it would happen at some stage, it is just nice that it is finally here. A few boys kept saying to me last season and this season 'when is it happening?' But obviously it is out of my hands. I did what I normally did and thankfully that is enough."

The former Hull and Blackburn player, who played alongside the likes of James Forrest, Stuart Armstrong and Jordan Rhodes in the Scottish youth sides, has spent most of his life in England but feels Scottish.

He said: "I used to come up at half-term and visit my family in Uddingston in Glasgow and used to get Celtic kits. I have good memories. It is harder to come up these days being in London but I had very good times here.

"My dad, especially, is a big Scotland fan and as soon as I got called up it was a proud moment for him."

Tonight's friendly against the Canadians at Easter Road is a warm-up for the World Cup qualifier against Slovenia at Hampden Park on Sunday, where the Scots must win to keep ailing hopes of reaching Russia alive.

Cairney believes he is in the form of his career and he is ready for the crucial Hampden fixture.

"I have never had a season as good as this one," he said.

"I owe a lot to the manager (Slavisa Jokanovic) and staff as well for that but I feel confident and if the gaffer wants me to play I will be ready."

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