Monday 18 December 2017

Cox desperate to take flight with Ireland

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

SIMON COX admits that some Ireland players were in 'la-la' land after last Friday's thrashing of Estonia, but he's focused on being in Poland and Ukraine next summer.

The West Brom striker is well regarded by Giovanni Trapattoni and is confident of making the 23-man cut for the finals once Ireland get past the formality of tonight's second leg at Lansdowne Road.

Cox believes he will get more chances at club level and has refused to contemplate the prospect of missing out.

But he acknowledges it will be heartbreaking for the regular squad members who miss out on making the finals -- something which is inevitable, given that Trapattoni often calls up 28 for qualifying games.

"It will be hard for the lads who do miss out because we're a tight unit. Everyone knows each other very well and we all like each other," said Cox.

"Football's a strange thing. You could be nowhere at club level and then suddenly starting. I believe in my ability and I believe I'm good enough to play.

"A year ago, I wasn't even thought about at international level," added the Reading-born striker. "I love every minute of it.

"A year ago, I wouldn't have thought about this, I would have said 'no way' (could I be involved). I was more interested in getting in the West Brom team and I still haven't done that," he added with a chuckle.

Cox is desperate to be involved tonight. He found out in the team meeting before last Friday's game that Jon Walters was getting the nod and he anticipated as much given the Stoke man's similarity to the absent Kevin Doyle.

"I was happy with the selection... it got a result as well so you can't argue," he said.

Cox has noted that Trapattoni is more relaxed since last Friday, yet he has learned enough about his favourite gaffer to know there will be no let-up with the preparations for tonight's match -- even though it would take the shock of all shocks for the Estonians to salavage the tie.

"He's not really changed, but he's a lot more chilled out. He's a great deal of pressure on him. As soon as we got back and had training on Saturday, he said 'Listen, lads, first class, absolutely brilliant result, great attitude from you, well done'.

"I think 4-0 probably does finish it, but we have to be professional and make sure we get the right result to send us through. The manager has certainly been leaving us in no doubt about what he expects us to do in the second leg."

Then, it's about the battle to get on a different plane next summer.

Irish Independent

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