TOM Cairney has been backed to make his international breakthrough and become the latest member of the growing Tartan Army at Blackburn Rovers.
That is the view of Rovers boss Gary Bowyer who fully believes the classy midfielder has the talent to follow in the footsteps of team-mates Craig Conway, Grant Hanley and Jordan Rhodes and become a fully fledged Scotland international.
Cairney, left, has won six caps for Scotland U21s – his last coming in February 2012 – and his fantastic form has led to speculation that he could win a first call-up to Gordon Strachan’s senior squad.
The 23-year-old has become an integral member of Bowyer’s side since signing initially on loan from Hull City at the start of the season and he showed he has the ability to shine on the big stage with man-of-the-match performances against Manchester City in the FA Cup.
Bowyer said: “It’s not for me to comment in terms of picking Gordon Strachan’s team or squad for him but there is no doubt the lad has been playing outstanding football.
“It is just my opinion but I think, yes, he should be striving to get into that squad with the talent that the he’s got.
“The performances he has put in for us have been fantastic and we were lucky to get the deal done permanently.
“But it is up to Mr Strachan to take notice of him or not.
“We’re forming our own little Blackburn Rovers Tartan Army!”
Cairney was born in Nottingham but qualifies for Scotland through his father Ian.
Should Strachan – who was in attendance when Rovers drew 0-0 at QPR in December – select Cairney it would strengthen a reputation that the former Leeds United trainee enhanced with his displays in the televised FA Cup ties with City last month.
By that stage Bowyer had already sealed a deal to sign Cairney permanently from Hull for a bargain £600,000.
Bowyer also signed striker Rudy Gestede, for £200,000, and winger Conway, for £100,000, in what he reckons – with some justification – was a successful January transfer window.
“The deals that were done both for the club and the players were very, very sensible,” said Bowyer, who has let 17 players leave Rovers since the start of last month.
“The players are only going to increase in value – and that is important to a club when you’re putting money out to buy people. You’ve got to be able to get something back off them.
“Like I’ve said all along, the model is getting in young and hungry players who can grow into become real assets to the squad.
“We were delighted to get in those three players and also able to get Luke Varney in on loan.”