Cox hoping withdrawn style edges him to front
Published 10/10/2011 | 05:00
SIMON COX expected to be dropped from the Irish squad for this week's Euro 2012 qualifier. Instead, he's in with a real chance of being involved in the crucial showdown with Armenia.
Robbie Keane's difficulty screams opportunity for Giovanni Trapattoni's back-up strikers and, if the skipper fails to recover in time for the Aviva Stadium encounter, Cox will be vying with club colleague Shane Long for a place in the side.
Long wins that battle at West Brom, but Cox is aware that Trapattoni is a fan. The Reading-born frontman has adapted well to the Italian's favoured system and, similar to Keane, he likes to operate as a withdrawn striker who can help the midfield.
"I feel I give something that Robbie gives, and maybe the manager sees a little bit of Robbie in me," said Cox.
"It's obviously weird, because the team would be devastated to lose him. He's a top-quality player, but it opens the door for somebody else.
"Sometimes, it's how others get recognised. It's a bit of bad luck, and I'd never wish it on anyone.
"The boss will make his decision tomorrow and I'll be happy if he doesn't pick me -- well obviously I'd be disappointed -- but if he takes the decision to choose somebody else then I'll be fully behind whoever it is."
Cox has spent the weekend catching up on sleep after failing to get any shut-eye on the lengthy trip home from Andorra.
He was reduced to games of monopoly and scrabble as he struggles to sleep on planes, while the three-hour bus ride on the windy road from the principality to Barcelona Airport was hardly conducive to napping.
"It was horrific," he said, "because I can't sleep on buses or planes. We got back at 7.0 and I watched the last 15 minutes of the rugby and went to bed.
"It's part and parcel of it I guess. The manager decides he wants to come back straight after the game, and that's the way he wants it."
The feeling of restlessness should be familiar to Cox, who is suffering a frustrating time at club level. "I think I'm in the worst position in football," he said. "I'm liked by the manager but I can't get in the starting XI. If I wasn't liked, it would be quite easy for me to leave the club and go out on loan.
"I'm trying to stay focused and get as many minutes and games under my belt as I can. But at the moment, that's none." That's why Cox anticipated exclusion from Trapattoni's thoughts for this gathering. With a posse of other Irish strikers in good form, he feared the worst.
"I sat at home when the squad was announced and I said to my missus, 'I made it' and she said, 'did you actually not expect to?' and I said, 'well, put it this way, there are people who are playing week in, week out scoring and I don't play," he said.
"I'd have been disappointed, but I couldn't have complained. I was surprised that I made it but obviously the manager sees something here that I give to the team that maybe somebody else doesn't."
The confident 24-year-old might have trouble sleeping again if Keane's absence is confirmed.