TOM Cairney believes Blackburn Rovers can send out a message of intent to the rest of the Championship with victory at his hometown team Nottingham Forest tomorrow.

The Nottingham-born midfielder knows it will be a tough task given Forest’s fine form and given the clash of the play-off hopefuls comes less than 72 hours after Rovers went down fighting in the FA Cup at Manchester City.

But seeing as Gary Bowyer’s side won their last away league match in such impressive fashion – against Leeds United – Cairney is confident they can claim a win which would leave them just a point behind the City Ground outfit.

“We’re going to have to recover quickly – two days and we go again,” said Cairney.

“It’s going to be another tough game as they are flying at the minute. But if we win there it would send a message out to the rest of the league, put us one point behind them in the play-offs and hopefully give us good momentum at the right time.

“Forest are a big club with a great ground.

“But hopefully we can do what we did at Elland Road and get a victory.

“But as I said they are a top team in this league so we will have to get on the recovery bed and go again.”

And should eighth-placed Rovers end fifth-placed Forest’s nine-game unbeaten run in all competitions, Cairney believes that would be perfect payback for the 4,369 travelling supporters who were in magnificent voice in midweek.

He said: “The fans were brilliant at Manchester City so we owe it to them to put on a performance at Forest, where no doubt they will travel down in their numbers again.”

No-one was more impressive for Rovers in the ITV-televised third-round replay with City than Cairney.

The playmaker stood out in the middle of the park against players of the calibre of the £30m Fernandinho.

“I can only speak for myself but to play on that pitch, against those players, and in that stadium, it’s something you dream about when you’re little,” said Cairney, who turns 23 on Monday.

“To have a chance to do that week in week out – maybe next season, who knows? It’s something that you definitely have to strive for.

“I like to test myself against the best players in the world and if I’m on the ball I’m quite confident, no matter who it is.”

Rovers paid Hull City £600,000 for Cairney’s services earlier this month after his initial six-month loan deal expired.

Boss Bowyer knows he has got a bargain.

He said: “We knew all about Tom and now nationally everybody else knows about him. He was outstanding on Wednesday night.

“Now he’s got to continue that.”