Cox ahead of McClean for Republic

  • Last Updated: September 4 2012, 19:40 BST

Simon Cox has jumped ahead of James McClean in the race to start Friday's World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan, Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has confirmed.

Simon Cox: Poised to start against Kazakhstan

Trapattoni earlier this week hinted that McClean could start his first competitive international game, but it appears that the Italian will now employ Nottingham Forest man Cox, who usually plays up front, out on the left flank previously occupied by Damien Duff instead.

Trapattoni was impressed with Cox's performance in the 0-0 draw against Serbia last month and also has doubts over McClean's fitness as he has not been able to train properly for the last two days due to a cold.

"Yes Cox is ahead of McClean because he was good in our game against Serbia," Trapattoni said.

"McClean came here with a sore throat. This morning he was better but now he has a little problem with it. I think he will be OK in one day. Then we will make a decision. That's all we can do."

Trapattoni admitted the team he fielded in training today is his preferred XI for Friday's World Cup qualifier in the former Soviet Republic.

Should he stick with that team it would mean Kieren Westwood starts in goal, with a back four of Stephen Ward, Darren O'Dea, Sean St Ledger and John O'Shea in front of him.

In midfield James McCarthy looks set to begin his first competitive game for the country alongside Glenn Whelan, Aiden McGeady and Cox while Jon Walters partners Robbie Keane up front.

Trapattoni used Kevin Doyle alongside Keane at Euro 2012 but Stoke hitman Walters is now the 73-year-old's preferred option.

When asked whether the team he fielded in training in Dublin today was likely to be his starting XI in Astana, Trapattoni said: "That is the idea because I think we have to be offensive.

"At this moment Walters is ahead of Doyle because he is so strong physically."

Trapattoni's squad will travel make the six and a half hour flight to Astana on Wednesday after training, leaving them almost two full days to get to grips with the difficulties a visit to Kazakhstan brings.

The time difference of five hours will need some adjusting to and the 3,000-mile flight could be difficult to stomach for the likes of Keane, McGeady and O'Dea who have already had to make even longer trips just to get to Dublin from their respective clubs.

O'Shea had no such trouble getting to the country's training camp here in Dublin, making the short journey from Sunderland following their 2-2 draw against Swansea on Saturday.

O'Shea's team-mate Westwood did not play against the Swans, with Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill again opting to start Simon Mignolet ahead of the former Manchester City man in the Barclays Premier League.

Westwood, who last started a league game for Sunderland in December 2011, has played once so far this term - against Morecambe in the Capital One Cup - but O'Shea has no doubt the 27-year-old will be able to fill the sizeable boots of Shay Given, who retired from internationals this summer.

"There's no worries about his sharpness, none at all," O'Shea said of Westwood.

"He came back in early in pre-season and was fantastic. It was a tough call for the manager to pick Simon ahead of Kieren for Sunderland.

"Westy has been doing fantastic. He did well in our friendly against Serbia.

"He will give the back four a lot of confidence and to the rest of the team because we know how good he is, not just at saving shots but his delivery too. He could be one of our secret weapons."

Trapattoni, meanwhile, has expressed confidence that he will be able to coax Duff out of retirement, as his assistant Marco Tardelli hinted yesterday.

"My philosophy is never say never," Trapattoni said.

"In the near future we will speak with him. I think he can change his opinion (about retiring)."