TOM Cairney has revealed he would have turned down a new contract with Hull City to sign for Blackburn Rovers.
And the fans’ favourite is determined to celebrate signing a three-and-a-half-year deal with Rovers by helping them cause an FA Cup upset at home to Manchester City today (12.45pm).
Cairney completed a permanent move to Ewood Park on Thursday after his initial six-month loan spell from Hull ran out.
The Tigers were reluctant to lose Cairney.
They gave the 22-year-old midfielder his debut – in the Premier League, when he was 19 – and there was speculation that they could offer him fresh terms to stay.
That could have scuppered Rovers’ hopes of keeping Cairney.
But the player himself had already made his mind up.
“There was talk of a new contract at Hull and I was going to go back there,” said Cairney, who has scored two goals in 24 appearances for Rovers – a record he wants to improve on.
“But I knew Blackburn wanted me to stay and if that option came along then that’s what I wanted to do.
“I’m 22 and I want to play as much football as I can, I don’t want to be missing out week in and week out.
“If I had gone back to Hull I might have got the odd Premier League game.
“That would have been fantastic but I would rather get back to the Premier League with Blackburn.”
Cairney starred in the New Year’s Day win at Leeds United, the club who released him when he was 16 as they felt he was too small. Cairney, who now stands at 6ft, ran the game from the centre of the park.
But there have been times this season when he has played on the right of a midfield four or on the right of a three behind lone striker Jordan Rhodes.
So what does he think is his best position?
“The one I played on New Year’s Day is my natural position,” said Cairney.
“We played a three in midfield and I played in the middle, which I really enjoyed and I think I played really well. “But there at times when I’ve played on the right. I’ve never played there before but I think I’ve been quite effective playing there and got in good positions.
“I’m not bothered where I play as long as I’m on the pitch but I am more natural in the middle.”
No matter what line-up City start with at Ewood Park this afternoon they will be expected to progress to the fourth round.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men are the 5/1 favourites to lift the FA Cup for a sixth time – the same amount that Rovers have won it – and are on a seven-match winning run in all competitions as they chase glory on four fronts.
But Cairney insists Rovers can get at least a draw.
“Even if they play the ressies they’ll still be worth £200m,” said the Scotland Under 21 international.
“It doesn’t matter who plays in the Manchester City shirt you know it’s going to be an international player and a class act.
“We’ve just got to do what we do. We always create chances in games and hopefully they won’t like it at Ewood if it’s a bit windy and bit rainy.
“Who knows what will happen? The FA Cup is special and stranger things have happened. But we know it’s going to be a tough test against a top side.
“Obviously you see them week in and week out on Match of the Day and realise they are special players, so to play against them is just a great opportunity and we’ve got to relish it.
“We’re not going to go out there and get beat 4-0 and go home happy. We want to get through to the next round, we want to cause an upset.
“Nobody outside our training ground will give us much of a chance but we believe we can definitely get something out of the game.”
Rudy Gestede, who along with Cairney penned a permanent deal with Rovers on Thursday, believes the pressure will be on City.
“Everybody is expecting us to lose 3-0 or 4-0 so there is no pressure on us,” said Gestede, who scored his first goal for Rovers in the victory over Leeds.
“It’s a very big game against a big team. Obviously they will make changes but it will still be a good team as City have some of the top players in the world.
“We’ll see where we are, if we are ready for the Premier League or not. Obviously it’s not all about one game but if we are up against some of the top players in the world, like (Yaya) Toure and (Vincent) Kompany, if you have a good game against them it will give be very good for the confidence for the rest of the season.
“So it’s very important that we’re focused and ready.”