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Fulham midfielder Kevin McDonald supports Cairney

last updated Sunday 14th October 2018, 8:23 PM


Fulham Football Club


Fulham midfielder Kevin McDonald
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Fulham midfielder Kevin McDonald has offered Scotland boss Alex McLeish a little respite from the negativity currently enveloping him.

The midfielder, largely anonymous against Israel on Thursday night, has stated there is no chance his Fulham team-mate Tom Cairney will abandon Scotland to join England.

The beleaguered national coach has been hit by a spate of selection headaches, with key players ruling themselves out in both the short and long term.

Leigh Griffiths and James McArthur are gone for the foreseeable future, while Ryan Fraser – a star for Bournemouth – in this season’s English Premier League, has missed key matches through injury call-offs.

It has been the Auld Enemy’s tentative courtship of Cairney, though, which has threatened to be the most controversial of all.

The midfielder – subject of a failed £18m bid from West Ham at the start of the year – has yet to play for Scotland in a competitive game, so would be free to defect to the Auld Enemy.

Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney
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However, while it is a scenario England manager Gareth Southgate has publicly acknowledged, McDonald is in no doubt about his friend’s commitment to the cause.

“Tom is definitely up for playing for Scotland. If fit and selected, he will want to play – there is no question about that,” said McDonald.

“Nothing has even been mentioned between Tom and me about England, because I think there is no real possibility of it happening.

“If he was to go and play for them, I would be very surprised.

“People put two and two together – he has a little knock and hasn’t turned up for Scotland, so maybe he is considering England?

“He has been injured. And in the summer, we had the play-offs which ruled him out.

“But Tom is available. He suffered a little setback from his injury, so that has put him back a couple of weeks.

“He came on against Everton, then wasn’t in the squad against Arsenal and that then ruled him out of the international break.

“But he will be back, I’m sure of it.”

In fact, far from turning his back on the country, McDonald actually now expects his club-mate to ride to its rescue.

“Tom is the type of player we could really do with in the team,” the 29-year- old from Carnoustie continued.

“You need to dig in, in terms of working hard off the ball, but he is good on it.

“He is able to relax in possession, find the pockets of space and play the passes.

“If you look at the Israel game, the space was there. When we took time, relaxed, passed the ball and found the gaps, they were all over the place.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for us, which is tough to take.

“The next challenge is Albania away, which I think will be perfect for Tom.

“Get the guy in and let him show what he can do. Let him prove to the manager that he deserves to be here.

“If called up, I’m sure Tom will do a great job.”

McDonald is equally confident McLeish’s own shoulders are broad enough to cope with the criticisms that have come across the board following what was a particularly wounding defeat in the swelter of Haifa on Thursday night.

“He is the one who takes the stick,” he said. “He is under a lot of pressure from the fans and I’m sure he wasn’t their No. 1 choice. But he is the manager now, and no one is going to change that.

“He has picked a set of players and the boys are doing what they can.

“That’s the way it is. He has put his faith in me and I’ve repaid him. “He wants me to stick and do as job. We are all behind him, 100%. We always will be.”























Source Danny Stewart at Sunday Post
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