Liverpool target Cairney happy at Hull

If reports were to be believed, Tom Cairney could have been turning out for Liverpool next season, but for the Hull youngster it is all about keeping the Tigers in the Premier League.

The 19-year-old broke into the first team under Phil Brown at the start of this season and impressed with his performances in the heart of midfield.

But he hit the headlines for the wrong reasons last month when negotiations over a new contract stalled amid reports of interest from Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham.

Brown and chairman Adam Pearson criticised Cairney for using an unlicensed agent and he was dropped from the side to face Arsenal, although the manager insisted the two were not linked.

Cairney subsequently signed a new three-year deal, and yesterday he stressed his intention was always to remain at the KC Stadium.

He said: "I didn't feel like I needed an agent at such a young age and I just went to get some advice, which I got advised to do by the staff.

"There weren't many negotiations between me and the club, it was kind of at a standstill, but then there were things in the national papers.

"But the main thing was I was just trying to get pen to paper as quickly as possible and that's what I've done and I'm here for another three years and hopefully more.

"Players were telling me Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham were interested. It is nice to hear those things but you can't believe everything you hear. It's all about Hull City and staying in the Premier League."

When Brown was replaced by Iain Dowie following the last-gasp 2-1 defeat by Arsenal, Cairney found himself out of the side again.

But he was given another chance against Birmingham last week and impressed enough in the 0-0 draw to ensure he will start for the second successive game at home to Aston Villa tonight.

Cairney said of his recall: "That was the aim since the new gaffer's been here and I was very grateful he put me in at this stage of the season. I was thinking maybe he'd go for the experienced players but it was a big accolade for him to put me in."

Dowie revealed it was Cairney's performances in training that earned him his opportunity.

"I believe football teams should be a meritocracy," he said. "Tom showed me enough in training, enough hunger, and I think he deserved to be in the team.

"At a time when you're looking for someone to step forward, Tom stepped forward. He's rewarded me with a good display and I'm now expecting even more of him."

Hull host Villa knowing three points would draw them level with 17th-placed West Ham as the battle to stay in the division hots up, while Martin O'Neill's team are chasing points at the other end of the table as they look to boost their Champions League hopes.

Cairney added: "They've still got something to play for and so have we, we're fighting for our lives. It will not be easy and their away form's very good so it's going to be a big battle but all we can do is concentrate on ourselves."