Grant: Cairney can be a major player for Scotland
The Scotland assistant believes the Fulham midfielder is one of several exciting prospects.
Scotland coach Peter Grant has backed Tom Cairney to make an impact for the national team, identifying him as one of a crop of exciting forward-thinking players.
Grant knows the Fulham midfielder well having worked at the club until last week, and he was enthusiastic about what the 27-year old could deliver for Scotland as they aim to reach Euro 2020.
The road to the finals begins with a friendly against Belgium, followed by the Nations League opener against Albania and Cairney seems likely to feature in Alex McLeish's team after being a key part of his club's promotion last season and introduction to the Premier League.
Grant says McLeish aims to put out a team that wants to attack and, alongside the likes of Leigh Griffiths and Callum McGregor, says Cairney can be part of that drive.
"The biggest skill he's got is the fact he is comfortable in possession of the ball. Fulham play in a certain style, they have done it for the last few years, and Tom fits into it fantastically well," he said. "He is very much a creator of opportunities, he is also a goalscorer and he has proved that over the past couple of years - player of they year and Championship team of the year.
"I think the Costa Rica game, we didn't see the best of him. You need people running by Tom so he can step in and get on the ball. We have got to build a team round about the facts that help these guys be at their best.
"To create space, other people have got to move out your space, and give the ball early. He picks up fantastic spaces between the lines and turns and faces the opposition.
"In that particular game we didn't do that quickly enough, we passed square first half. To get the best out of Tom you have to have the right players round about him, and that's what we think we have. "
Grant highlighted the standard of player Cairney was training with and competing against on a weekly basis as proof that the midfielder has what it takes to star at international level.
"He is more than capable and the great thing he is playing at the highest level, playing against top international players week in, week out," he said. "That can only make you think better. He is training with a group of players now at Fulham which is much stronger than last season, we spent £104million.
"So all of a sudden you are playing against better players in training and you have to make sure you are in the team week in, week out.
"He is more than capable of playing at the highest level. Hopefully we can see the best of him and that's what we are going to try to achieve. When these guys are playing at their best, they are very exciting players and players that the fans will love."