Former Ireland striker David Kelly predicts bright international future for Cox

Kelly, now assistant coach at Nottingham Forest, believes the 26-year-old’s best position is up front in a striking duo.

Simon Cox has three senior goals for Ireland.
Simon Cox has three senior goals for Ireland.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

THE EXPERIMENT ON the left wing came to an end after Euro 2012 and Simon Cox once again finds himself in a supporting role, off the bench, for Ireland.

With four matches coming up for Giovanni Trapattoni’s men in quick succession, the Nottingham Forest forward will be hoping to get a decent run-out in his favoured position.

Cox has seen Jonathan Walters, Shane Long and Conor Sammon edge past him in a jostle for the task of partnering Robbie Keane but, having recently ended his goal drought at club level, he would relish a chance against England at Wembley.

David Kelly, assistant coach at Forest, knows what it is like to score against England. ‘Ned’ scored the opener against Terry Venables’ England in the Lansdowne Road friendly that was abandoned due to crowd trouble. “The goal still counts in my house,” Kelly told ”That’s good enough for me.”

Having joined back up with long-term coaching partner Billy Davies and overseen the final 15 matches of Forest’s season in the Championship, Kelly has been impressed with Cox. He said:

Coxy and Andy Reid started nearly ever game for us after we took over and both did really well. I was really pleased for Coxy when he scored a super goal for us in the final game of the season against Leicester. He’s a superb lad and you can’t fault his work-rate and effort.”

The 26-year-old’s keen eye for a pass and willingness to put in shifts out wide for the team occasionally detracts from his goalscoring statistics. While Cox made 10 assists for Forest this season, he only netted six times.

Kelly added, “His favourite position is main striker or playing up front as part of a duo. Ireland used him out on the left at the Euros and he’ll certainly do a job for you. We’ve tried him out on the left and right of an attacking three but, if you asked him, he’s tell you that he wants to be a mainline striker.”

The former West Brom forward is capable of moments of outrageous skill, as he demonstrated against the Czech Republic when scoring deftly last February and this gem against Birmingham earlier in the season:

YouTube credit: HD123DTG

Kelly, capped 26 times for Ireland and a member of the Euro 88, Italia 90 and USA 94 squads, believes Cox has taken a degree of confidence into the Irish camp following his goal against Leicester. He hopes that another goal or two in Ireland’s end of season friendly and qualifiers jamboree could set him up for a starting role with club and country next season.

The Forest coach is also eager to see more of young Irish midfielder Stephen McLaughlin next season. Kelly said, “He has only been involved a little bit since I arrived but we are looking to get him fit over the summer and ready for the pre-season. He’s got a great work ethic and is a very honest lad.”

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Patrick McCarry

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