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Cox: Competition for places brings food for thought for future

SIMON COX believes that the recent discoveries of the Trapattoni era have given the manager some food for thought after last night's display against Greece.

Despite the fact that he only made his international debut 18 months ago, Nottingham Forest man Cox has, with all of the flux and fuss since the disaster of Euro 2012, become one of the senior members of the current set-up. In winning his 21st senior cap as Shane Long's strike partner against Greece, he can indeed claim seniority as only three players from the starting line-up last night (Long, John O'Shea and Glenn Whelan) have more international experience than Cox.

And Cox is heartened by the impetus that some of the rookies have given the side, with a special mention for 30-year-old Wes Hoolahan.

"We have a few players with more minutes of senior international football under their belts now, the likes of Robbie Brady and James McClean are getting more and more experience, Wes Hoolahan has come back into the frame and I think he played very well, and Ciaran Clark looked hungry last night," Cox told the Herald.

"There is more pressure for places now. Someone like Wes is not a young player, he's an established player in the Premier League, but he came in last night and did really well, so competition for places can only be good for Ireland.

"They are all positives, if these young players are going to be around for a long time then it's going to be good times for Ireland. The result wasn't great for us last night but the performance levels were good, we started the game well and in my book we finished the game as the stronger team.

"The pitch didn't help last night as the surface wasn't great. I know they had a rugby match on it recently, but it wasn't a major factor, it was the same for both teams and Greece seemed able to deal with it okay," added Cox, who admits that 2012 - a year in which he played in every Ireland game bar one - had been a mixture of ups and downs.

"Qualifying for the Euros led to a great buzz for the country and a great feeling within the team, but the year has finished on a low, to be honest.

"We had the Germany game, we lost last night - even though it was a better performance from us - and we had the games in Kazakhstan and the Faroes where the performances weren't brilliant but we got good results. It has been a mixed bag so it's been a decent year for us," added Cox.

The game finished early for Cox as he was replaced by Andy Keogh on the hour mark due to an injury, the second time in two months he has limped out of international action (Cox suffered an injury in the friendly against Oman). But he says his club should not be too concerned.

"I had a slight problem with my foot when I came over and I was able to nurse it for the few days I was here but I was hit with a tackle in the second half and I had to come off.

"I will fly back to Forest and be assessed by the medical staff but hopefully it's not too bad."