Cox confident of Ireland chances

Simon Cox is confident the Republic of Ireland can emerge from their World Cup double-header against Sweden and Austria with their hopes of qualification enhanced.

Giovanni Trapattoni's men face the Swedes in Dublin on Friday night and then head for Vienna, where they will attempt to make the Austrians pay for the late equaliser they scored at the Aviva Stadium in March to deny the Republic a priceless victory.

The memory of David Alaba's 93rd-minute strike still haunts Cox, but he insists Ireland have nothing to fear as they prepare for their trip to the Ernst Happel Stadion.

He said: "We took the lead and we withstood everything that they had apart from pretty much the last kick of the game.

"It was a massive kick in the teeth for us. It's one of those that you go through in your mind, what could you have done to prevent it?

"We have spoken about it, we have put it behind us and if that's what they can give to us, then we will be more than confident to go over there and at least get a point."

However, before Trapattoni and his players can even start to contemplate a resumption of hostilities with Austria they need to emerge from their encounter with Sweden with something to show for their efforts, and in an ideal world, the Italian is targeting three of the four points as a minimum from the two games.

The Republic managed a hard-fought 0-0 draw in Stockholm in March, but are acutely aware of the threat Paris St Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic could pose to their World Cup dream.

Cox said: "First of all, we have got Sweden to deal with. Zlatan is a world-class player and we have got to deal with him and the rest of them.

"They are a good team rather than world-star internationals apart from Zlatan, who is probably the stand-out player for them.

"It's going to be a tough game, but the Austria game is probably the one we are looking forward to even more."

Striker Cox has at times been asked to play in a wide midfield role for his country, and with natural winger Aiden McGeady injured, Trapattoni could look to plug the gap he leaves with either the Nottingham Forest man or Stoke frontman Jon Walters.

Asked if that is a task he would relish, Cox replied: "Definitely.

"I would love to be playing as a centre-forward, but sometimes it's not to be and you have to ply your trade outside.

"It's one of those that I wouldn't say 'no' to because it's a massive game and if I can play a part in helping the lads get some results, it's one I would look forward to.

"If you have to do it, you have to do it and I am looking forward to seeing if I can get the nod for it."

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