Republic of Ireland striker Simon Cox issues warning to Spain


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The Independent Online

Striker Simon Cox has warned Spain the Republic of Ireland will not fear them as they attempt to rekindle their Euro 2012 hopes.

Ireland's campaign got off to a disappointing start in Poznan last night when they were beaten 3-1 by Croatia in their opening Group C fixture.

They must now take something from their second game to keep their dreams of reaching the quarter-finals alive going into the final round of matches, with Italy waiting in the wings.

That, however, may be easier said than done with world and European champions Spain standing in their way in Gdansk on Thursday evening.

But Cox, who was introduced as a 53rd-minute replacement for Aiden McGeady last night, is relishing the prospect of going head-to-head with Vicente del Bosque's all-stars.

The 25-year-old West Brom frontman said: "You don't come to major tournaments and get easy games.

"Now probably two of the most-feared nations in world football, we have got them in front of us, and we are going to go out and enjoy it.

"Now we have got the first game under the belt, we know what the atmosphere is going to be like, we know what the stadium is going to be like.

"We don't fear the Spain game now anyway, so it's going to be a game we will look forward to."

Fellow striker Kevin Doyle is also ready to put himself on the line for what is a pivotal game in the Republic's quest for the last eight.

He acknowledged how tough a night Giovanni Trapattoni's men had endured at the hands of the Croatians, although he personally made life difficult for central defender Vedran Corluka before being replaced by Jon Walters.

But the 28-year-old Wolves target man is convinced the Republic will come out fighting at the PGE Arena.

He said: "That's usually when we are at our best - and we will need to be.

"We will be ready to go on Thursday. We had unbelievable support last night, at the end in the rain, at the hotel the day before outside and yesterday again.

"It was fantastic, and we need every one of them behind us on Thursday."

Ireland, unusually, were undone by a sub-standard defensive performance as Croatia strikers Mario Mandzukic and Nikica Jelavic made the most of lapses at the back to fire their side to victory.

Doyle said: "We conceded from three set-pieces, which we are usually very strong at.

"They didn't carve us up in open play - it was a typical performance. We never have the most possession in games, but we usually can get something out of it.

"It's our first defeat in 15, but in situations we are usually a bit stronger at, we weren't as good."

The Republic, who had got themselves back into the game at 1-1 courtesy of Sean St Ledger's 19th-minute equaliser, might have had a second-half penalty and finished with a flurry, but it was all to no avail.

Cox said: "In the last 10, 15 minutes, we kept going and we felt that there was still a result in there for us.

"But Lady Luck probably wasn't with us and we just didn't get the rub of the green."