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Cox keen to step up next term

West Brom striker Simon Cox has vowed to make a major impact at both club and international level next season after a thrilling end to the current campaign.

The 24-year-old Ireland frontman scored on his senior debut for his country in the 5-0 Carling Nations Cup victory over Northern Ireland on May 24, and repeated the feat in Tuesday night's friendly defeat of Italy in Liege as he collected his fourth cap inside 15 days.

"It's been a great few months. I have enjoyed my club football and then to get the call-up to come away with Ireland was a terrific boost for me," said Cox. "Then to get a goal on my debut, and then get a goal against Italy."

He added: "I am definitely going to try to get more games in the Premier League and hopefully if I get that, more games for Ireland."

Ireland were already leading Italy through Keith Andrews' fine 36th-minute strike when Cox was introduced as a replacement for Shane Long with half an hour to play.

The Italians, who had dominated possession without ever threatening to break Ireland down, were making their final push when Stephen Ward played in Stephen Hunt down the left, and he raced past defender Alessandro Gamberini before crossing for Cox to slide in and score from point-blank range.

"Hunty did what Hunty does best, he got at the guy and went past him, and all he had to do was find me and I tapped it into an empty net," said the striker.

"It's an unbelievable honour for me. It was a little bit too far for my family to travel, but I am sure they were all watching and it meant a lot to me."

Cox might have headed off on his summer break with a third Ireland goal to his name had German referee Florian Meyer and his assistant not chalked off a perfectly good effort against Macedonia for offside on Saturday evening. However, his effort against the Italians proved the perfect compensation.

He said: "I watched it the other day. Some you get and some you don't and that was one I didn't get in the end."


From Belfast Telegraph